With immediate effect, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has revised the Influenza A (H1N1) flu alert status from Yellow to Green.
Review of the pandemic
2 Influenza A (H1N1) virus emerged in North America last April and caused a global pandemic. Taking a prudent approach, Singapore first raised its alert level to Yellow on 28 April 09, and then to Orange on 30 April 09, before revising it down to Yellow on 11 May 09.
3 Influenza A (H1N1) virus continues to be the predominant influenza strain circulating globally and in Singapore. Fortunately, the nature of the Influenza A (H1N1) infection has been mild and has so far shown no signs of increase in severity.
4 At this stage, indications are that the global Influenza A (H1N1) activity has declined in most areas. Some areas continue to have evidence of active but declining transmission, including North Africa and limited areas of Eastern Europe and East Asia.
5 Since the onset of the pandemic in Singapore, a significant number of local residents would have acquired natural immunity from the Influenza A (H1N1) infection. The vaccine against the Influenza A (H1N1) infection has also been available in Singapore since early November. More than 420,000 residents have taken advantage of vaccination.
6 In Singapore, the weekly number of polyclinic attendances for Acute Respiratory Infections (ARIs) has largely been below the epidemic level since the week of 9-15 August 2009. Locally, seasonal increases in ARI numbers have been observed in the months of January/February and May/June annually. The recent increase in ARI numbers in mid January 2010 is likely a part of the fluctuating seasonal trends. Since 24 January 2010, the ARI numbers are noted to be on a downward trend. We will continue to monitor the weekly number of polyclinic attendances for ARIs.
7 Given the present scenario, MOH, on the advice of its experts, will revert to the Green flu alert status. Nevertheless, MOH experts will continue to actively monitor the flu situation locally and around the world. We will be ready to step up appropriate precautionary and control measures, should the circumstance turn adversely.
Need for continued vigilance
8 Since its first outbreak here in May 2009, Singaporeans have put up a good fight against Influenza A (H1N1). We thank them and seek their continued support and cooperation. It is important that all of us maintain a high level of personal hygiene, be socially responsible and stay away from work or school if unwell. Individuals at higher risk are advised to protect themselves against the infection. The public can still access vaccines at various healthcare establishments and clinics. Vaccines are a good protective measure against the virus.
9. As part of our continued vigilance and good patient care, we also seek the public’s understanding that even as we revert to the Green Alert status, acute hospitals will continue the practice of (a) adhering to stipulated visiting times and (b) limiting the number of visitors per patient at a given time. These are essential public health best practices, to limit cross infection in hospitals. They will also ensure that patients get the necessary rest and peace of mind. Members of public who have fever, sore throat, cold or cough must not make social visits to hospitals lest they spread the infection to and cause serious complications in hospitalised patients.
10. At border check-points, health advisories will continue to be displayed.
Vaccination protects against the Influenza A (H1N1) virus
11. Although the Influenza A (H1N1) virus remains mild, MOH strongly encourages the public to ask their doctors about vaccination, especially if they are at higher risk of developing complications. Although most infected persons have only experienced mild illness, there have been more than 1,600 hospital admissions from complications related to the Influenza A (H1N1) infection since July 2009, including about 100 admissions to intensive care and 20 deaths.
12 Precaution remains key as Influenza A (H1N1) is still circulating and we must be mindful of the potential harm from this virus.