(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng, does not think the outbreak of the deadly disease Coxsackie B in Sarawak has reached a critical stage and therefore is not prepared to declare the disease as an epidemic, although it has claimed the lives of 17 children since the outbreak on April 14 - three in Kuching, four in Sarikei, 10 in Sibu - with ages ranging from five months to eight years.
There are two questions uppermost in the minds of all Sarawakians and Malaysians:
Firstly, how Coxsasckie B could be fully brought under check and control when medical authorites have stated that at present there is no known definitive treatment for coxsackie infection; and
Secondly, why the Health Ministry allowed the deadly Cocksackie B virus to go on a rampage for some seven weeks since the first death on April 14 claiming 17 lives before taking serious action.
If the outbreak of Cocksackie B had taken place in one of the peninsula states claiming 17 lives, the Health Minister would have undoubtedly declared an epidemic already under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.
It is important that no stone must be left unturned to answer both these questions to satisfy the people of Sarawak that they had not suffered any form of government neglect in the handling of the outbreak of Cocksackie B disease. There should be an inquiry as to why the deadly Cocksackie B virus was allowed to go on a rampage for some seven weeks since the first death on April 14 claiming 17 lives before the Health Ministry took serious action.