KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia recorded 51,147 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) between Jan 1 and Aug 14 this year, said Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
Sarawak recorded the highest number of cases at 6,209 or 12.1 per cent of the total, he added.
"Of the 6,209 HFMD cases in Sarawak, a majority were reported in Kuching where 1,387 cases or 22.3 per cent were recorded from Jan 1 until Aug 14 this year.
"One death was reported on July 28 in Sarawak, involving a 27-month-old child from Mukah.
“The sister was also diagnosed with HFMD symptoms, but has recovered with no complications," he said during the minister's question time in the Dewan Rakyat here, today.
Dr Dzulkefly was responding to a question posed by Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen (DAP-Bandar Kuching) who had asked the minister to state in detail, the number of HFMD cases in Sarawak and the preventive measures that have been implemented; as well as the criteria used to ascertain whether a childcare centre has to be closed down due to the current outbreak.
Dr Dzulkefly further said that the HFMD outbreak in Malaysia is not as severe as in other countries such as China, which has recorded a high death rate.
He said it is crucial to observe five hygienic practices: proper hand washing, ensuring environmental hygiene, conducting screening at the entrances of school premises, and disinfecting contaminated surfaces.
Meanwhile, Dr Dzulkefly said the closure of nurseries, kindergartens, or preschools would only be carried out in the event an HFMD outbreak has been detected on the premises.
He said HFMD cases are classified as an “outbreak” if there are two or more cases on the premises during the HFMD incubation period.
“The closure of the premises will be done for a period of 10 days from the date the HFMD case was last detected,” he said, adding that the closure is to break the chain of transmission and to enable operators to carry out disinfection processes, particularly on toys and contaminated surfaces including floors and tables.