Malaysia records more than 57,000 HFMD cases since New Year

Most cases are reported in KL and Putrajaya with an alarming level in April

by NURUL SUHAIDI / pic by BERNAMA

MALAYSIA has recorded 57,510 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) involving children aged six and below from Jan 1 until May 25.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said the 24-fold increase was reported in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Putrajaya during the period, with an alarming level in April this year.

Khairy noted that the spike in HFMD cases is factored by movement after the reopening of social activities, schools and negligence in terms of maintaining the hygiene among parents and the kids’ guardians.

To mitigate this, he said the Health Ministry (MoH) is imposing several measures including early detection by school authorities, raising awareness among parents and advising them to avoid bringing children to high-risk areas and spreading it to others.

“We will also be holding a town hall session involving the community in the premises such as kindergarten, schools and parents.

“We want to lower the cases and break the chain to zero,” he said in a virtual press conference yesterday.

For the time being, Khairy allows the decision for closures to be done on the locality level, and the affected premise may decide when it is appropriate to close down which could be four to five days for inspection purposes.

MoH will not be imposing any mass vaccination among kids for this purpose.

Meanwhile, on the monkeypox disease, Khairy said Malaysia’s main strategy is to increase surveillance capability at international points of entry.

“We have instructed our health and immigration officers to be on the lookout for symptoms of monkeypox and refer them to the health authorities immediately at the international airport and undergo an incubation period of 21 days,” he explained.

The guideline for assessing the symptom for monkeypox among travellers, especially from the high-risk countries has been distributed to the relevant authorities for further action.

He denies any cases of monkeypox have been detected in the country so far.

In addition, he said another approach is to communicate and educate the public on this disease through surveillance and the role of clinics and hospitals.

“The prevention will be done in a comprehensive manner to monitor the outbreak in the community,” he added.

Khairy said two more sentinel clinics for monkeypox have been added for the public to refer and monitor themselves in which their sample will be taken for symptoms identification. 

Any close contact and under surveillance person will be listed and updated in the MySejahtera application for detection.

“In addition, the strategy is also to inform the public about behavioural change including advising the public to avoid eating raw meat and stay away from wild animal.”