KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 — The government has closed the Sungai Siput National Service (NS) camp and removed water activities entirely from the programme following the death of trainee R. Vinoth last month due to leptospirosis.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (picture) told Parliament, however, that the death had nothing to do with cleanliness at the camp and insisted rat urine, which is a common source of the leptospira bacteria, “was not a factor” in the case.
“But we will not compromise on the quality of commandants, trainers and operators of NS camps. So I have taken the decision to stop all water activities and closed the Sungai Siput camp,” he said.
Vinoth, 18, was undergoing training at the Terkok camp in Sungai Siput when he developed high fever. He was given outpatient treatment at a hospital on March 9, and admitted to the Sungai Siput hospital on March 11, but died at 10.10pm the next day.
Infection of leptospirosis occurs when water contaminated with the bacteria gets in contact with broken skin or the eyes.
The fatal disease has a wide range of symptoms leading up to meningitis, liver damage and renal failure.
The National Service programme, which randomly drafts in school-leavers for three months, has been mired in controversy due to reports of rape and up to 19 deaths from a total of 600,000 conscripts so far.