PETALING JAYA: There were 57,510 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) reported in Malaysia from January to May 25, says Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
Khairy said this was an increase of 24 times over the same period last year, in which 2,333 cases were recorded.
Compared to pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels in 2019, Khairy said there was an increase of 27,664 cases of HFMD this year.
Khairy said the increase had raised alarms with 995 cases recorded from March 13 to 19, a figure that rose to 1,653 cases from April 3 to 9.
"A steep increase in cases took place since April following the resumption of social activities, including schools and kindergartens reopening," he told a virtual press conference from the sidelines of the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday (May 26) evening.
Khairy said at present, Selangor has the most HFMD cases with 16,286 cases reported, followed by the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (7,298), Perak (5,045), Kelantan (4,194) and Sabah (3,829).
According to Khairy, most of the cases involved children below the age of six (52,846 cases), with 3,741 cases involving children aged seven to 12 years.
From January to May 25, there were 1,370 cumulative outbreak incidences, consisting of 5,203 HFMD cases.
Of these incidences, he said 832 happened in kindergartens, 482 at home, and 45 at daycare centres.
Up until May 25, only two children with HFMD had to be warded in the intensive care unit (ICU) after contracting the enterovirus 71 (EV71) strain.
"The first child has gradually recovered, does not need respiratory aids and is being monitored in the ICU.
"The second child still needs respiratory aid, but is in stable condition," added Khairy.
Meanwhile, he said the national and state HFMD operations centre, set up for the purposes of planning and streamlining control and prevention plans of HFMD, has been running since April 4.
Khairy advised those operating and working at kindergartens and daycare centres to always ensure good hygiene practices and screen children for HFMD symptoms before allowing them to enter.
"Children with HFMD are advised not to be present in school in order to prevent infecting others," he added.
Khairy also said parents and guardians must play their role, where children with HFMD symptoms should not be allowed in public spaces, schools, kindergartens and daycare centres.
"Wash your hands with soap and water after going to the toilet, changing diapers, and after treating blisters," added Khairy.
HFMD symptoms include ulcers in the mouth and rashes or blisters on the hand and feet.