Should you avoid the districts of Rompin and Pekan, because of the pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak there?!
Take a look at the viral messages, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : Avoid The Pertussis Outbreak In Rompin + Pekan
People are sharing a screenshot of an official document issued by the Malaysia Ministry of Health (KKM) declaring a pertussis outbreak in the town of Kuala Rompin, together with alarming warnings like these:
Please do not go or encounter Pekan and Rompin. There’s an epidemic disease worse than Covid. Everyone is required to wear masks.
Minta semua orang jangan pergi atau jumpa orang Pekan dan Rompin. Ada wabak yg lebih sirius daripada Covid, terus sesak nafas. Minta semua pakai MASK.
Ask everyone not to go or meet people from Pekan and Rompin. There is an epidemic more serious than Covid, [you’ll] immediately suffocate. Ask everyone to wear a MASK.
Here are the text of the viral KKM document, and its English translation:
DECLARATION OF PERTUSSIS OUTBREAK IN ROMPIN
With all due respect, I refer to the matter above.
2. For your information, the Rompin District Health Department has declared an outbreak of pertussis localised in Kampung Bahagia, Kuala Rompin on 13.8.2023. In order to control the spread of the disease, we request your cooperation to examine your cases more carefully to see if there are patients from the same locality with the symptoms of pertussis. The correct use of PPE should be practiced to prevent the spread [of pertussis] among healthcare workers.
3. We greatly appreciate your cooperation and hope that the spread of pertussis can be well controlled. Thank you.
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No Need To Avoid Pertussis Outbreak In Rompin + Pekan
Here is what you need to know about pertussis, and why there is no need to avoid people from Rompin or Pekan, or avoid going to those districts.
Fact #1 : KKM Document Is Genuine
First, let me just point out that the Pahang Department of Health confirmed on 19 August 2023, that the viral KKM document is genuine.
According to the Pahang Department of Health, there was a small outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) in Kampung Bahagia, in Kuala Rompin, Pahang.
Fact #2 : Only Three Cases Were Reported In Kuala Rompin
Pahang Health Director Dato’ Indera Dr. Nor Azimi binti Yunus said that the pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak involved a mother and her two children, who are being treated, and are in a stable condition.
All the patients have been given treatment and are in stable condition. The Rompin PKD has increased prevention and control activities in the area where the patients are residing.
Health education activities have been undertaken through ceramah, distribution of pamphlets and dissemination of information via social media.
There was no report of any pertussis cases in Pekan.
Fact #3 : Pertussis Is Not More Dangerous Than COVID-19
Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a respiratory disease like COVID-19. However, it is not caused by a virus, but the bacterium, Bordetella pertussis.
Pertussis spreads easily through the coughs and sneezes of the infected person, but it is rare these days because the vast majority of people in Malaysia have already been immunised in their childhood.
While pertussis vaccines do not confer lifelong immunity, they are given at childhood, when the disease is most likely to strike and kill. In addition, pertussis can be treated using antibiotics, which is not possible for COVID-19.
Therefore, the claim that pertussis (whooping cough) is more dangerous than COVID-19 is not true.
Fact #4 : Pekan Is An Hour Away From Rompin
It is unknown why people would create fake messages about the risk of pertussis in Pekan. After all, no cases of pertussis were reported in Pekan!
The pertussis outbreak in Kuala Rompin isn’t going to “jump” to Pekan either. Pekan is located over 80 km away from Kuala Rompin! That’s more than an hour’s drive by car!
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Fact #5 : Viral Messages Were Labelled As Fake News
On 21 August 2023, Pahang Health Director Dato’ Indera Dr. Nor Azimi binti Yunus, spoke out again about the viral messages, calling them misleading. Here is an English summary of what she said:
The pertussis case that occurred in Kampung Bahagia, Rompin is under control, so the warnings “not to come to Rompin, not to come to Pekan and Pahang” are inappropriate.
It is not extraordinary for there to be pertussis cases. And an outbreak is declared whenever there are more than two cases of the same disease in a locality. We not only face a pertussis outbreak, but also dengue outbreaks, leprosy outbreaks and so on.
The letter was issued to alert healthcare providers to quickly control the outbreak by actively looking for cases, instead of waiting for people to come to the hospital.
In Kampung Bahagia, we found 370 people (50% of the population) to conduct contact tracing. To date, there has been no new cases, and we have given prophylactic antibiotics to 37 people who were identified as the patients’ close contacts.
We also examined and conducted tracing on 52 residents of Kampung Sepakat that is located next to Kampung Bahagia, and found no new cases.
The chain of an outbreak is considered broken completely, if no new cases were reported within two weeks of the last case to be detected.
She called on the public not to spread unverified information about this pertussis outbreak.
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