MIRI: All hospitals in Sarawak are now equipped with facilities to quickly identify the usually lethal Enterovirus 71 (EV71) strain of the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD).
This means the state authorities can move more swiftly to contain any outbreak and hopefully prevent deaths as they need not rely on outside help to identify this dangerous strain.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said the state government and health authorities had made significant headway in dealing with the HFMD that killed up to 13 people during last year’s outbreak around this time of the year.
“Before this, we had to send samples taken from infected people to Kuala Lumpur and even Australia in order to positively identify the virus.
“Now, Sarawak can identify the EV71 within 72 hours. This is important because EV71 usually brings serious consequences.
“It is very infectious. It can spread from one group of people to another within days, even from one housing estate to the next.
“Now we are better equipped to deal with any such outbreak,” he told a press conference yesterday.
Dr Chan, who is chairman of the State Disaster Relief Committee, said that so far this year the HFMD in the state had not erupted to the level it was during this period last year.
The number of new cases is only about 30 daily and there have been no deaths.
“The number of cases daily has not reached a level that can be considered worrying,” he noted.
To a question, he said the state health department remained baffled as to why the HFMD EV71 strain showed up in a cycle of every three years.
“There are still no results from the studies we have conducted on this aspect (since the January 2006 outbreak),” he said.
On a separate matter concerning the grouses over the state land lease renewal, Dr Chan said the Sarawak United People’s Party had forwarded its input to the state government based on the feedback from members of the public throughout the state.
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