JOHOR BARU • With most Malaysian states including Johor experiencing a surge in hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), the country's Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching has advised Malaysian children who commute daily to study in Singapore to take extra precautions by observing hygiene.
She said that although there were no reports of HFMD in Singapore, they should not take things for granted. She advised parents of children who attend Singapore schools to take them to the doctor should they show symptoms of HFMD.
"The ministry is closely monitoring the situation in the country," Ms Teo told reporters after attending an event in Johor Baru.
Classes which had students infected with HFMD were ordered to close between 10 and 14 days by the Health Ministry.
Several thousand Malaysian students make the daily trek from Johor to attend Singapore schools.
Malaysia's Education Ministry said last Friday that five schools in the country had been ordered to close for 10 days, out of 830 schools nationwide affected by the contagious disease as at July 25.
One of the schools is located in Penang, another in the town of Jerantut in Pahang, and three in Sabah.
It was reported on Wednesday that 12 of the 13 Malaysian states had shown a spike in the number of HFMD cases. Only Sarawak was not on the list.
From Jan 1 until July 23, 35,886 HFMD cases were reported nationwide, the Health Ministry had said.
Johor recorded a jump in HFMD cases with 2,215 reported from January to July 21, compared with 1,607 cases in the whole of last year.
To prevent the disease from spreading further, the government had ordered the closure of 469 premises nationwide, including 217 nurseries and 223 kindergartens.
HFMD spreads through contact with nasal discharge, saliva and faeces, as well as fluids from the blisters of an infected person. A person infected with HFMD is most contagious during the duration of the illness, with no known treatment available besides relief of symptoms such as fever, sore throat, mouth ulcers, rashes and lethargy.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK