In Kuala Lumpur there is an outbreak of the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD). Eight children have already lost their lives in Sarawak state. Hence to calm down the situation the state government has worked out a series of preventive measures. It was said that about 187 new cases were reported in five areas of the state, bringing the total number to 5,181.
There is an indication that HFMD is beginning to spread to the interior rural areas. Cases are seen at Mukah in central Sarawak and Kapit along the western coast.
Hence after this the Malaysian Health Ministry ordered an immediate closure of all 488 kindergartens and 534 pre-schools in the state for two weeks to stem the spread of the disease and facilitate clean-up work at the premises. The schools were again closed for an indefinite period of time as the situation had become worse. The State Deputy Chief Minister George Chan asked the flying doctors to go to remote areas and look for suspect HFMD cases in villages.
The flying doctors service brings medical treatment through helicopter to people scattered in interior regions. Each team of flying doctor service comprises a doctor, a medical assistant and two nurses who visit between three and five settlements a day. Chan, who is also Chairman of the State Disaster and Aid Management Committee, said that the government also proposes to launch extensive information campaigns in interior areas to enhance the public awareness of the HFMD.
Through the mass media such as radio and newspapers it plans to spread the message across to the public. The state health department has decided to deploy more medical staffs. They also plan to establish 12 more health teams and invite six more doctors and three more child specialists from Peninsular Malaysia.
Health Minister Chua Soi Lek discouraged children in Sarawak under the age of 10 from participating in school holiday activities at western Malaysia. He said this as a precautionary measure to prevent the disease spreading to western Malaysia.
Local authorities have also insisted the public to be very careful in case their child shows symptoms such as fever, rashes on hands, feet and mouth and painful mouth ulcers. They have requested them to approach the doctors immediately.
This is because the disease can be treated if it is identified at an early stage. The children, who had succumbed to the disease, are usually admitted under stressful condition, with neurological signs. Local authorities are spreading the message that children are more vulnerable to the HFMD while adults can carry the virus without showing any symptoms of infection.
The HFMD can be spread from person to person by direct contact with the nasal discharge, saliva, faces and fluid from the rash of an infected person and indirectly by contaminated articles. Hence in conclusion the local authorities, state officials and the health minister all are working towards the elimination of the disease from the country.