KUCHING: There is no cause for panic even though the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is now at a critical level, Assistant Minister of Public Health Dr Jerip Susil said yesterday.
He explained that ‘critical level’ means that all relevant agencies and everyone should start taking action to address the increasing number of HFMD cases.
“It does not mean that the disease has reached the epidemic level. The health department, local government and everyone have to be extra cautious with public health now,” he said.
He said this when speaking to reporters after witnessing the swearing-in ceremony of three new political secretaries at the Chief Minister’s office in Wisma Bapa Malaysia here.
In view of the rise in the number of HFMD cases, Dr Jerip called on parents with children in preschools and below 10 years old to be very mindful of all health issues.
“Once they have the symptoms pertaining to HFMD they must quickly bring their children to the nearest health centre for examination and if they are found to be positive they must be quarantined at home for at least three to four days and not allowed to go to school.
“If there are four or five incidences in any single school, the school should be closed to prevent the virus from spreading to others.
“On top of that, avoid going to public places especially with children because we have reached a point where action needs to be taken. It is a critical period,” he said.
He pointed out that normally HFMD would occur every two to three years and because the last outbreak was in 2009, it was supposed to recur last year but instead it happened this year.
However, he said the public should not panic because the situation was very much under control with the relevant authorities working very hard by undertaking necessary preventive measures.
“Another fortunate thing is that we have gained some experience from past cases and are now better prepared to handle the situation except that we want to warn the public to be on high alert and take necessary precautionary measures to prevent the disease from reaching the epidemic level.
“This is because once it reaches that level it will be more difficult to control,” he said.
He was unable to provide figures offhand except to say that there were a few admissions and only one death was reported so far (in Samaharan Division).