KOTA KINABALU: The number of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases in Sabah has doubled over the past week.
Sabah health director Datuk Dr Rose Nani Mudin (pic) said the state recorded 702 HFMD cases in the 20th epidemiological week (ME20) from May 15 to 21, compared to 333 cases in the previous ME.
"This represents an increase of 111% compared to the cases reported in ME19," she said in a statement here on Tuesday (May 24).
"Cumulatively, Sabah has recorded 3,351 HFMD cases up to ME20.
"It is quite a big increase compared to the 63 cases reported within the same period last year."
Dr Rose said Tawau recorded the highest number of cases at 541, followed by Sandakan (451), Lahad Datu (325), Papar (309) and Kota Belud (269).
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"So far, no deaths due to HFMD have been reported. The majority of the cases, or 93.2%, involve children aged six and below.
"Most transmissions took place at private homes or early education institutions," she said.
From the department's observation, she added, HFMD cases in Sabah started showing signs of increasing in ME14 from April 3 to 9.
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"However, even with the jump in HFMD cases in Sabah, the situation is still under control," Dr Rose said.
"The public's role is vital in the effort to curb the spread of the disease.
"With the coming festive period such as Pesta Kaamatan, the people are advised to continuously implement preventive measures by avoiding physical contact, washing hands regularly with soap and maintaining personal hygiene.
"This will not only prevent HFMD infections but also Covid-19," she said.
Dr Rose said the Health Department would hold town-hall sessions with relevant agencies and early education centre operators to raise the awareness of HFMD.
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"Daily screening of children before they step into the early education institutions is being implemented by its respective operators.
"Children with symptoms of HFMD will be isolated at home. This is the early step to avoid the spread of the virus," she said.