Operators: Set SOP for HFMD, just like with Covid-19

PETALING JAYA: The Education Ministry must come up with clear guidelines, similar to Covid-19 standard operating procedures, on managing hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) outbreaks, say kindergarten operators.“What we have received from the ministry is just advice to parents and guardians,” said Islamic Kindergarten Association of Malaysia (Pertim) secretary Hajah Siti Ruzita Ramli.

“However, there is no order stipulating how many days a child must be quarantined away from the centre.

“Parents are advised to refer to a doctor and avoid sending their children to school if they exhibit HFMD symptoms,” she added.

ALSO READ: Good hygiene a big help to prevent HFMD

Siti said it would be good if operators are given a set of rules like with Covid-19, such as where the children should be quarantined.

“It is important for parents to be aware of the disease and its symptoms,” she said, adding that once a child starts to display symptoms, parents should bar them from going to schools or daycare centres immediately.

ALSO READ: Klang Valley hit by over 6,000 HFMD cases

Siti, who is also the founder of Al Fikh Orchard, said many HFMD cases were reported immediately after Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

She said kindergarten operations were not halted, but children who had contracted the disease were told not to attend classes.

ALSO READ: Kindergartens playing it safe

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said the disease is a cause for concern as it is highly contagious.

“Parents and teachers must remind their young ones to practise good hygiene,” he said.

Meanwhile, parents are equally concerned about their children.

Siti Syamimi Idrus, 33, for instance, said she is worried for the safety of her five-year-old child but there is nothing much that can be done.

“We can only maintain good hygiene and take precautions, but they still have to go to kindergarten. We can only hope for the best,” she said.

Another mother, who only wanted to be known as Lim, said HFMD has been around for years but there is no cure for it.

“I get my son to try to take every precaution not to get infected,” she said.

“I pray that there are no cases in his school.”

Deputy Women, Family and Community Minister Datuk Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff said that for now, there are no plans to close kindergartens, nurseries or daycare centres.

“This issue falls under the Health Ministry,” she said when contacted.

Parent Action Group for Education chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said parents should be sensitive towards their children’s health.

“There is no excuse for parents to be ignorant about HFMD anymore,” she said.

“Seek treatment immediately when symptoms appear. Any delay could be fatal.”

Noor Azimah said communication should always be open, timely, constant and consistent.

“This is to ensure that parents and students are kept informed of the latest situation in their school at all times,” she added.

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