KUCHING: Two primary schools and seven pre-schools here have been ordered to close for two weeks due to the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD).
The orders were issued by the state Health Department on Feb 28 after they had recorded two or more incidences of HFMD.
Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre Communicable Disease Control Section, Sarawak Health Department, in its email to The Star stated that the two primary schools were SK Sg Apong and SK Pulo.
The former recorded four cases while the latter, three.
The seven pre-schools that had been issued closure orders on the same day were Tadika Bhodi, Tabika Kemas Kem PGA, Tadika Methodist Taman Malihah, Tadika St Thomas, Taska I Clever, Pra Sekolah Petra Jaya and Taska Intan Suria.
Tabika Kemas Kem PGA recorded the most cases with eight, followed by Tadika Bhodi (seven) and Tadika St Thomas and Taska I Clever, both having six cases each.
The minimum number of cases for the school to be ordered to close is two.
The state Health Department had issued closure orders to one primary and seven pre-schools in Kuching, Kota Samarahan, Betong and Sarikei between Jan 2 and Feb 23.
The primary school was SJKC Chung Hua Betong, which recorded 21 cases.
The pre-schools that had earlier been ordered to close were Pra Sekolah SK Sarikei, Pusat Permata Anak Negara Kota Samarahan, Taska Perpaduan Complex Perumahan Kerajaan Negri Betong, Tadika Perpaduan Complex Perumahan Kerajaan Negri Betong, Tadika Betong, Tabika Perpaduan Sarikei and Tadika Methodist Sarikei.
All of them have re-opened. The number of HFMD cases in Sarawak has reached critical level.
According to the state Health Department’s statistics, there were 1,231 cases recorded as at Feb 24.
Kuching recorded the highest cases with 449, followed by Bintulu (202), Samarahan (119), Betong (107), Miri (80), Sarikei (60), Limbang (59), Kapit (52), Sibu (45), Sri Aman (37) and Mukah (21).
Meanwhile, state Health director Dr Zulkifli Jantan said HFMD was generally a mild and self-limiting childhood disease.
“The majority of the cases seen so far were mild infections with only 82 cases requiring hospitalisation mainly because of poor feeding. There were no cases with serious complications or deaths reported so far this year.”
He pointed out that the disease usually begins with a fever, poor appetite, malaise and often with a sore throat.
After one or two days of the onset of fever, painful sores usually develop in the mouth. They begin as small red spots that blister and then often become ulcers. The sores are usually located on the tongue, gums and inside of the cheeks.
A non-itchy skin rash develops over one to two days. The rash has flat or raised red spots, sometimes with blisters and is usually located on the palms and soles. It may also appear on the buttocks and/or genitalia.
A person with HFMD may have only the rash or mouth sores.
Advice from Sarawak Health Department to contain the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
• Wash hands with soap and clean water after using the toilet, before preparing food, after changing diaper and washing faeces of children.
• Cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.
• Do not share personal items like toothbrushes, handkerchiefs, towels, blankets, cups, forks and spoons.
• Maintain cleanliness of house, child care centres, kindergartens or school surrounding.
• Wash all toys and surfaces of tables, chairs floors and so on that has been contaminated with saliva.
• Bring children to the nearest clinic or hospital if they have the signs and symptoms of infection.
• Parents are advised not to bring young children to crowded public places such as swimming pools, markets, bus station, etc.
Children who show signs and symptoms of infection:
• Should refrain from going to child care centre and kindergarten or school and should be brought to clinic immediately for investigation.
• Do not burst the blister.
• Wash hands if dressing the blisters and emptying bowel.
• Use a separate set of eating utensils. Advice for child care handlers:
• The overall health of the children should be checked daily upon arrival, noting any unusual symptoms or behaviour. If a child is suffering from any of the infectious diseases, he shall be immediately isolated by placing him/her temporarily at the sick bay (for childcare centres), or principal’s office (for kindergartens). His/her parents shall be informed to bring him/her for medical treatment and isolated at home/hospital.
• The supervisor should ensure that the screening of children for illness includes appropriate hand-washing and barrier precautions to prevent person-to-person transmission.
• Maintain cleanliness in child care centres, kindergartens or school surroundings.
• Wash all toys and surfaces of tables, chairs, floors and so on that has been contaminated with saliva.
• The supervisor/principal of the child care centre/kindergarten/pre-school centre shall implement whatever actions required by health officers from Ministry of Health to prevent further transmission of the disease.
• Where it may be necessary to interrupt transmission of a serious infectious disease, the Sarawak Health Department may require the closure of the childcare centre/kindergarten/pre-school centre under Section(1)(d), Aact 342 Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 19888.