GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) outbreak in Penang has gone "beyond the danger level", said state Health Committee chairman Afif Bahardin.
On Wednesday (July 18), a further 88 children had contracted the disease, with an earlier 127 cases reported on Tuesday.
From January to July 18, a total of 2,170 cases have been reported compared with 1,084 in the same period last year.
"We are beyond the danger level now," said Dr Afif.
There are now 97 HFMD infection clusters in Penang compared with only eight during the same period last year.
"Do not bring your children out if they have HFMD symptoms. Schools must conduct daily gate screenings and not allow pupils with HFMD symptoms to attend classes.
"At home, practise handwashing with soap and water frequently, and sanitise all frequently touched areas with bleach diluted as per instructions on the label. The best way to stop HFMD from spreading is to practise a high level of cleanliness," he stressed.
Dr Afif also gave his assurance that HFMD was not life-threatening, adding that children who contracted it will recover, although "they will have a miserable time".
He explained that parents may need to take time off from work to care for them or even hospitalise the children if their symptoms worsened.
He also shot down a WhatsApp message that has been circulating, which falsely claimed that HFMD has caused one death in Penang.
"HFMD causes a loss of manpower hours and difficulty for families. That is why the state is taking this seriously," he said.