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Infectious Diseases Expert Slams MOH for Sluggishness: “First Zika Infection was Detected in May”

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The infectious disease expert who detected Singapore’s first case of Zika has slammed the Ministry of Health for not starting its investigations into the spread of the disease earlier.

Dr Leong Hoe Nam diagnosed the first case of Zika virus infection at Mount Elizabeth earlier this year.

Then, the MOH announced that a 48-year-old Permanent Resident tested positive for the virus after a trip to Sao Paulo from 27 Mar to 7 May 2016.

The man developed a fever and rash on May 10 and was warded 2 days later where he was subsequently confirmed to have contracted the virus.

He was then transferred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for treatment and isolation.

Dr Leong said that health authorities should have begun its work on tracking the spread of the virus earlier as GPs only can only help detect the trend.

“Every single mild case of fever, they should have investigated, it was a chance to break the cycle. Kudos to the GP who picked up the trend. We must remember that Zika is very mild, compared to dengue. Patients may not be sick enough to go to hospital but to the GP instead. So the GP now is the gatekeeper.”

Meanwhile, MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling seconded the notion that the Health Ministry should have acted earlier.

“It would have been most ideal to take a more conservative approach at that point in time, if there had been early suspicion, to check if there were any positive cases. But I suppose MOH would have taken the balanced approach between alarming everyone, and doing proper checks.”

Ms Tin oversees the ward where the first locally transmitted case of the Zika virus was detected on Saturday.

Since then, health authorities have revealed that further testing showed another 41 people infected with the virus, with 34 making a full recovery.

The Zika virus is mainly transmitted by infected mosquitoes.

It brings on flu-like symptoms in those infected, and is only dangerous when contracted by pregnant women as there is a high chance their babies will be born with birth defects.
UPDATE: Redwire Rejects Good Doctor’s Accusations of “Misquoting” for the Sake of Personal Agenda

JOHN WONG: A strange and puzzling accusation by Rophi Clinic’s good doctor Dr Leong Hoe Nam, whom we recognise as an authority in the arena of infectious diseases.

The good doctor saw it fit to publicly state that he was misquoted by us, as you can see in this Facebook post, and threaten legal action.

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We reject this accusation.

As editor, Let me explain why.

(1) Dr Leong’s quote was published in full. The exact text was published in Today newspaper as well. And, not forgetting, The Middle Ground, which is helmed by esteemed and deeply respected former Straits Times editor Bertha Henson.

“Every single mild case of fever, they should have investigated, it was a chance to break the cycle. Kudos to the GP who picked up the trend. We must remember that Zika is very mild, compared to dengue. Patients may not be sick enough to go to hospital but to the GP instead. So the GP now is the gatekeeper.”

41 confirmed cases of Zika in Aljunied - Today

41 confirmed cases of Zika in Aljunied – Today

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Zika: MOH under fire for not doing enough – The Middle Ground

(2) Dr Leong’s sole indictment of Redwire is peculiar. There is no mention that Today news described him as having “called the MOH out on not starting investigations earlier.” As simple laymen (and not infectious disease experts) we would hazard a guess that Today news doesn’t mean anything along the lines of (1), (2) or (4).

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(3) Dr Leong’s quote wasn’t taken out of context. To call a person sluggish would mean that this person is slow to react. Perhaps Dr Leong should explain what he meant when he made this comment regarding the Health Ministry: “Every single mild case of fever, they should have investigated, it was a chance to break the cycle.” Dr Leong was the doctor who first diagnosed a patient with the Zika virus in May this year.

Our agenda, as Dr Leong has questioned, is similar to the good doctor’s – to protect citizens and get Singapore well – though we practise this in different fields.

Where we differ, perhaps, is we believe in this simple logic test – if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

 

 

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. leong hoe nam

    August 29, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Dear Sir,

    Your comments and your choice of words is INACCURATE and appears to sensationalize the issue of Zika for your won personal agenda.

    Please remove this post immediately, as I have not SLAMMED the Ministry for sluggishness.

    I expect this to be removed immediately upon receipt. I reserve the right to exercise legal action against you or your website.

    This is a difficult time for Singapore, I would rather focus on constructive measures than to slander unproductively. Thank you.

    Dr Leong Hoe Nam

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