PETALING JAYA: Fourteen preschools in Penang remain closed although the number of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases is under control, says state Health director Dr Wan Mansor Hamzah.
Officers from the department, he said, were visiting all preschools to monitor the cases that had affected all the five districts in the state.
He said between January and June this year, 45 preschools were ordered to be closed under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 while the rest were voluntary closure by the operators.
“Currently, there are 14 preschools which are still under closure order although the overall situation is under control,” said Dr Wan Mansor.
Penang recorded 1,555 HFMD cases between January and July 4 this year, a 48% increase from the same period last year.
“Most of them occurred as clusters in kindergartens or preschools. So far, there are 53 HFMD clusters all over the state.
“State Health Department officers have gone to preschools and are still going there to give health education to the teachers and operators.
“If there is a case at a new place, we will investigate and take further action,” he said.
Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah advised the public to report cases of HFMD to the nearest district health office.
“Parents, kindergartens and childcare centre operators must take active preventive steps and check on the children to ensure they do not have HFMD symptoms such as fever, sore throat or mouth ulcers before entering the premises,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham also urged parents and caretakers of children suspected of having HFMD not to take them to public places and to ensure hygiene at home.
“Children with symptoms or infections must be brought in to see a doctor for treatment,” he said, urging people to wash their hands after going to the toilet, changing diapers or touching and treating blisters.
“Ensure diapers are properly disposed and use separate eating utensils for the infected child,” Dr Noor Hisham added.
The HFMD virus can spread through contact with the patient’s saliva, blisters or excrement.
Although most HFMD patients can recover without medical treatment between seven and 10 days, they face respiratory tract infection, vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of appetite.