MIRI: The reported second wave of hand, foot and mouth (HFM) disease outbreak in Sarawak has once again emptied the crowds in this border city.
Shopping complexes, food outlets, recreational parks and playgrounds throughout this coastal resort city have seen a marked decline in the number of visitors.
A survey by The Star yesterday found that even the clinics had shown a drastic drop in the number of child patients, probably due to fears that those stricken with HFMD would most likely be among those seeking treatment.
A popular private specialist clinic was empty yesterday morning, a far cry from normal days when patients had to wait up to three hours.
A senior nurse said the sudden decline followed last weeks announcement by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan that the state was facing a second wave of the HFM disease.
The first wave hit earlier this year.
People seeking treatment for their children would usually call up first and ask if there were many children at the clinic, the nurse said.
They want to make appointments when there are no patients around. It seems they are exercising extreme caution, probably due to greater awareness that the disease can spread quickly, she added.
Miri is one of the areas badly affected by the outbreak.
In Kuching, Dr Chan said 78 new cases were reported in the state yesterday, bringing the total to 12,224.
Kuching recorded 28 cases, followed by Miri with 19, Bintulu with 12, Mukah with six, and Samarahan and Sibu with four each. Two children were admitted to hospital, bringing to 17 the number of patients warded, said Dr Chan.
None is critically ill.
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