An outbreak of hand, foot-and-mouth disease in eastern Sarawak state of Malaysia is causing concern among Malaysian health officials, who are saying that they would shut down all schools in the area to prevent the disease from spreading throughout the country.
The virus, which causes the disease, has so far affected more than a thousand children and four have even succumbed to it. "In peninsular Malaysia, the health ministry will take a clear line of action to prevent the spread of HFMD," said Malaysia's Health Minister Chua Soi Lek. "If more than two children in a kindergarten are infected, it will be shut down automatically to break the chain of transmission." Sarawak deputy health director Andrew Kiyu said that all 488 schools in the area were shut down as more than 200 cases are being reported daily. 3,087 cases had been recorded since the New Year, he added. "The situation is under control," he said. Sarawak state's deputy chief minister George Chan Hong Nam said the situation was getting worse since parents are not taking the disease seriously, "The people should not take this lightly, as the consequences can be serious," he was quoted as saying by the Star daily. Hand, foot and mouth disease affects children and causes fever, mouth ulcers and rashes.