Malaysia — Two more people with Influenza A (H1N1) have died in Singapore after developing complications. That raises the death toll here to eight. The latest deaths are of a 51-year-old Indian woman who was obese and had Down’s syndrome, and a 78-year-old Chinese man with no known medical history of underlying illnesses.
Doctors warned that the worsening haze could bring on more severe illness, especially in those with respiratory diseases such as asthma.
The woman with Down’s syndrome had a high body mass index (BMI) of above 30. She went to Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s emergency department on Wednesday after having had flu-like symptoms for three days. There, she developed breathing difficulties and low blood pressure, and died of pneumonia in the afternoon.
The elderly man was at Alexandra Hospital’s emergency department on Tuesday, with fever and shortness of breath. He was placed in intensive care but his condition worsened and he died of a heart attack with pneumonia as a contributing factor on Thursday morning.
The Ministry of Health did not give any other details on Thursday.
There are 74 H1N1 patients hospitalised currently, with nine in intensive care. A 40-year-old Chinese man with asthma was the latest to be placed in intensive care on Thursday.
Polyclinic attendances for upper respiratory tract infections have shot past epidemic levels, mainly because more people are seeking treatment as soon as they feel ill. Attendances have risen from 18,705 three weeks ago to 22,880 the week after, and 24,477 last week.
Should the haze persist or worsen, this number will rise even further, said Dr Derek Tse, Assistant Director of Clinical Services at SingHealth Polyclinics. ‘Under these hazy conditions, patients with chronic heart and lung conditions are more susceptible to irritation like sneezing and coughing,’ he said.
Dr Ong Kian Chung, another respiratory specialist in private practice said the flu combined with the haze could hit asthmatics especially hard.
‘Asthmatic patients will usually know when are good days and when are the not so good days. So, if they get more frequent attacks than usual, they should be careful,’ he said. If symptoms such as worsening cough, wheezing and breathlessness occur, they should see the doctor, he advised.