Three kindies closed to prevent HFMD outbreak

KUCHING: Sarawak has closed three kindergartens for two weeks as a precaution against the spread of hand foot and mouth disease (HFMD). 

“HFMD is endemic in Sarawak, so this is nothing new. The number of cases recorded so far this year is fewer than in the corresponding period last year and has not reached the warning level of 53 cases in a week,” said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan. 

“There is no serious case and no hospital admission. So there is nothing to worry about,” he said yesterday. 

In the first four weeks of the year, 132 cases were reported throughout the state, with Kuching district having the highest number at 40, followed by Sarikei and Sibu (23 each), Bau (14) and Miri (12). 

The three kindergartens closed are Sedidik Sri Jaya in Sri Aman and Methodist Sze Hua and Tadika St Clement, both in Sarikei, after three to four cases were detected on their premises by health teams. 

Sedidik Sri Jaya was closed on Tuesday and the other two yesterday. 

Dr Chan said Sarawak carried out continuous surveillance of HFMD and monitored weekly reports from all districts. 

In addition, the state Health Department issued an alert on Jan 24 to all districts and hospitals to step up prevention and control measures after the Institute of Health and Community Medicine of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) said the EV71 virus had been detected in Kuching, Sarikei, Miri and Limbang. 

EV71 was responsible for the HFMD outbreak in the state last year during which a total of 14,875 cases and 13 deaths were reported. 

Dr Chan advised childcare institutions to screen children for HFMD while parents were asked to refrain from taking ill children to school or public places. 

“I hope that with the concerted efforts of the Health Department and Unimas, with the cooperation of childcare institutions and parents, we can avert another HFMD outbreak in Sarawak,” he added.  

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