GEORGE TOWN: Sparing no effort to keep pupils from contracting hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), a school in Tanjung Bungah has resorted to a traditional remedy of herbal drinks.
SJK (C) Poay Wah is making sure pupils gulp down cups of homemade herbal drinks during recess, twice a week.
From a week ago, headmistress Lian Poh Lai has been buying the herbs that the canteen operator prepares for the 150 pupils and 16 teachers of the school.
“We are having chrysanthemum tea now and will have barley with winter melon next.
“We know our approach is traditional, but these are all natural ingredients.
“The canteen boils a large pot. Hopefully, the drinks will cool down the pupils’ body heat,” she said yesterday.
Lian said the school has recorded a 99% attendance to date and school activities were going on as usual.
“Teachers have not detected any cases of fever so far,” she said, adding that the school does daily gate-screening to check if pupils show signs of HFMD before being allowed to attend classes.
Chinese physician Dr G.C. Chan said the drinks would be vital for children who already contracted HFMD.
“They are not only cooling but will promote urination and help the body flush out toxins,” she said, adding that the herbal drinks should be prepared without sugar.
As for healthy children, Dr Chan said it would help prevent “heatiness”.
Paediatrician and lactation consultant Datuk Dr Siti Khadijah Tun Hamdan said although drinking herbal tea is fine, it is a beverage that does not prevent HFMD.
“Hygiene, especially hand hygiene is of utmost importance as it is spread through direct contact.
“Drinking herbal tea will not help the situation,” she said.
The need for higher hygiene standards and the dangers of physical contact with infected people was also stressed by state Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin.
He pointed out on Thursday that kids who went travelling with their families during the recent school holidays were the probable source of HFMD outbreaks in Penang and other states because they were exposed to more human contact.
While HFMD cluster statistics show that the sky-rocketing number of cases were in the more affluent northeast district, Dr Afif said yesterday that he did not refer specifically to well-to-do families who took their children on holidays.
As of Wednesday, only two national-type schools out of seven schools were closed. Seven preschools, nine nurseries, 11 kindergartens and one daycare centre were also serving their closure orders.
The number of HFMD infection clusters in Penang is more than 10 times higher this year at 97 compared with just eight last year.