THE students of SJK(C) Poay Wah in Tanjung Bungah, Penang, already know well the daily regiment of health inspection to check if they might have hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD).
Just as they pass the school gates before the dawn sky can brighten, they are greeted by five to six teachers wearing surgical gloves and masks.
Teachers check their mouth cavities for ulcers and rashes.
Another team take the kids’ temperature at the foreheads with infrared thermometers.
And yet others shine torchlights on the children’s open palms to look for tell-tale red blisters that will have clear fluid or sometimes green pus just beneath the skin.
If the children pass every test, they get squirts of clinic-grade hand sanitisers as the last part of the process.
Headmistress Lian Poh Lai said the daily HFMD checks started on Monday since the outbreak of the disease became public.
She said the teachers took turns to arrive extra early for the duty, while the school’s parent-teacher association (PTA) supplied the equipment and hand sanitiser.
She said the PTA provided the non-contact infrared thermometers so that the temperature checks would not result in cross-contamination among the students should HFMD be present in any of them.
“We will carry out the basic examination until the epidemic is under control.
“Our teachers were trained by the state Health Department on how to do it with many videos to show us what to look out for,” she said yesterday.
Lian said even the canteen operator chipped in by getting Chinese herbs to make ‘cooling’ concoctions for the pupils.
She said the Health Department visited the school on Tuesday and gave a briefing on HFMD and thoroughly checked the pupils.
HFMD is caused by a virus and its symptoms include fever, rashes in the palms or feet, and ulcers in the mouth and tongue, as well as upper respiratory tract infection.
The disease is typical of the types of Coxsackie A16 and Enterovirus 71 (EV71), and the virus spreads when there is contact with the saliva, blisters and stools of patients.
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