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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, June 3: Cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in Sarawak have risen significantly this year with 608 cases recorded last week or the 20th Epidemiology Week (EW).
Minister for Public Health, Housing and Local Government Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian emphasised that as compared to the same period last year, Sarawak only has 148 cases while previously there were zero cases.
“So we are in a stage of an epidemic (outbreak). (As such) All of us need to take care and be careful.
“We need to wash our hands frequently and make sure the toys, floor and any other surfaces constantly in contact with babies and young children are clean,” he advised in a video posted on his social media page yesterday (June 2).
The Deputy Premier also urged parents to bring their children to the nearest health clinic if they are feeling unwell, develop a fever or have painful ulcers in the mouth and small blisters on their hands and feet.
According to the Health Ministry (MOH) in a statement on May 31, HFMD cases in Malaysia had risen 27-fold compared to last year.
A total of 65,535 cases were recorded nationwide in 21EW ending May 28, as compared to 2,333 cases in the same period of last year.
Selangor has the highest number of cases with 18,525 cases (28.27 per cent), followed by Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya 8.088 cases (12.34 per cent), Perak 5,810 cases (8.87 per cent), Kelantan 4,905 cases (7.48 per cent) and Sabah 4,077 cases (6.22 per cent).
Of the figure, a total of 59.831 cases or 91 per cent were reported among children aged six and below while 4.593 cases (7 per cent) were among 7 to 12 years old.
The majority of the disease outbreak occurred in nurseries, kindergartens and pre-schools with 913 outbreaks or 61 per cent of the total cases, followed by private homes with 526 outbreaks or 35 per cent and also childcare centres with 51 outbreaks (3 per cent).
As of May 29, a total of 1,174 nurseries, kindergartens and preschools were ordered to close with 228 premises voluntarily and 946 premises closed under Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control Act 1988.
A total of 715 premises or 61 per cent have been reopened after inspection by the District Health Office.
With that, MOH stressed the importance of gatekeeping screenings at nurseries, kindergartens, preschools and childcare centres; avoid gathering among children; hand washing; disinfecting children’s toys, floor and toilets; and using separate eating and drinking utensils. — DayakDaily