Sarawak is already on full alert for the recurrence of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD).
The potential for contracting the disease reportedly peaks at three year intervals and next year will mark the end of its current cycle, stated Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan yesterday.
He also said that there seemed to be a slight increase in the number of EV71 cases detected in Miri, Bintulu and Kuching but assured the public that this was not an indicator of an epidemic or outbreak.
“I am expecting the Health Department to get back to me with feedback soon. We are already on full alert for HFMD because the probability of contracting the disease may well increase towards the end of the year.
“There has been a slight increase in terms of related cases since last month but compared to last year when there were about 5,000 (cumulative) cases, these numbers are still on the low side. Currently, there are about 3,000 recorded cases.
However, we want to be cautious because the disease is noted to hit its peak every three years,” he told reporters after sending off the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the airport here.
Dr Chan, who is the State Disaster and Relief Committee chairman said the recent closure of SK St Augustine in Mambong after 15 pupils were diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) was a necessary measure.
Mambong is located 26 kilometres from Kuching.
He commended the school and Education Department for their quick thinking regarding the swift closure which consequently made it easier to control the spread of the disease.
“When you have a lot of children who are infected, the disease tends to spread very fast. It is advisable to take action in trying to contain the situation immediately when you have only one or two pupils in order to make sure that numbers are kept to a bare minimum,” he explained.
“It is better to be overly cautious in this sense to ensure that an epidemic does not occur.
Hopefully by being more conscious of the disease, we will be able to neutralise the three-year cycle,” he added.