Source: The Star (View expressed here is solely the opinion of the source)
KUCHING: The number of new hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases has risen past the outbreak level in the state this week, but worse may yet to come due to the current dry weather.
The Health Department has recorded a total of 341 cases from June 17 to 22 with most of them in Kuching, Samarahan, Miri, Sibu and Sarikei. The outbreak level is reached when the number of weekly cases go beyond 327, while the epidemic threshold is at 780 cases.
The number of hospital admissions in the six days ending yesterday stood at 32. At the same time, 24 clusters were reported, involving 19 families and five childcare centres.
Out of the five centres, four were ordered to close for two weeks — SK Tarat in Serian, Tadika Kemas Kampung Maong here, Taska Permata Perpaduan Bumiko in Miri and St Francis Day Care Centre in Sarikei.
As for the families, they have been instructed to quarantine themselves and to avoid contact with people until all rashes have disappeared, which could take up to 10 days.
State health director Dr Zulkifli Jantan told The Star yesterday that the increase in cases was recorded after the school and Gawai Dayak holidays earlier this month.
He conceded that his department was concerned that the current dry spell could exacerbate the outbreak.
“If there is a shortage of water, especially in the rural areas, cleanliness will be a problem. So we would advise the people to practise social distancing. Don’t go to crowded places and do your best to maintain a high level of personal hygiene,” he said.
A HFMD outbreak was first reported in the state in 1997. It lasted for about three months and recorded a total of 29 deaths. There has been no death in the current outbreak.
To avoid contracting the disease, the Health Department advises the public to practise the following:
·Good cough etiquette (covering mouth
and nose with tissue when sneezing or
·Avoid sharing personal items like
toothbrushes, potties, handkerchieves,
towels, cups, forks and spoons.
·Good personal hygiene like changing
clothes and taking bath before attending
·Frequent disinfection of all toys, door
knobs, floor, surfaces like tables and chairs
and so on that have been contaminated
·Bring children to the nearest clinic or
hospital if they have signs and
symptoms of infection like fever, rashes,
sores in the mouth, tongue, gums, inside of
the cheeks, on the palms or soles.
·Avoid bringing young children to crowded
public places such as swimming pool,
playground and shopping complexes.