Seventy to 90 percent of cases of people receiving treatment at the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council Stadium medic base in Johor Bahru, were due to panic following numerous rumours and untruths spread on the toxic waste pollution in Sungai Kim Kim, last week.
Mercy Malaysia clinical psychologist Dr Azlina Roszy Mohd Gaffar said that, based on monitorings and observations up to yesterday, it was found that most of the cases referred there were related to panic.
‘’(They) were anxious and worried because they did not know what to do and they had panicked.
‘’So, when they panicked, they have symptoms such as hyperventilation or short of breath which is often compounded with problems they already have,’’ she told reporters at the stadium.
In addition, Azlina said air pollution also impacted badly on those who had asthma and heart problems, and panic would also worsen their conditions.
‘’If not alleviated, we will admit them and they will be treated in accordance with the stipulated procedure. However, after one hour or so, if they feel better, and we see no other symptoms, then it is indeed anxiety or panic,’’ she added.
In addition, panic too would result in some people getting rashes, itch and headache, she said.
As of midnight, 65 new patients were warded due to the chemical waste pollution, making the number of those who were still being treated at hospitals at 371.
As of 3pm yesterday, 4,035 people have been treated.
Meanwhile, the Social Welfare Department (JKM) has brought in 13 psychologists to help victims deal with trauma and extreme anxiety following the crisis in Pasir Gudang.
Johor Bahru District Disaster Relief Management Committee chairperson Mohammed Ridha Abdul Kadir said the initiative was aimed at reducing the anxiety and fear of victims of the pollution.
“The team has started working at the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council Indoor Stadium since yesterday.
“The team's initiative and scope of work is to help from the perspective of crisis intervention, counselling, guidance, psychoeducation, psychological support, programmes and activities,” he said in a statement today.
According to him, the operating hours are divided into two shifts, that is 8am to 3pm and 3pm to 10pm.
As at 3pm this evening, the team has provided assistance to 238 victims, he said.