SIBU: The state Health Department is doubling its efforts to screen children for hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) at nurseries and kindergartens throughout the state as the disease has reached epidemic level in Miri and Sibu divisions.
And on their part, teachers should adopt precautionary measures by screening children before letting them off from schools, state health director Datu Dr Zulkifli Jantan told The Borneo Post yesterday.
“They (teachers and caretakers) must practise a high standard of hygiene and cleanliness at all times, including by thoroughly washing their hands with soap after visiting the toilet,” he added.
Miri and Sibu recorded 564 and 342 cases of the disease respectively from the beginning of this year till Feb 23.
Meanwhile, Association of Kindergarten Teachers in Sibu, Sarikei and Kapit Divisions chairperson Wong Mee Hoon revealed that their members carried out checks on the children at school gates daily.
“The measure suggested by the Health Department is effective in keeping out the disease since children suspected with HFMD are asked to go home and prevented from entering the classrooms,” she stated.
She said the precautionary measure had been implemented since the new school term began.
Other measures, Wong disclosed, included exposing toys under the sun to kill the germs.
“Toilets and classrooms are washed twice daily before and after lessons. They are also disinfected as we want the children to study in a clean, safe and hygienic environment,” she stressed.
Elsewhere in rural areas, Dr Zulkifli said that educational programmes were on-going in the outskirts to curb the spread of HFMD.
“The programmes are geared towards increasing the level of awareness of HFMD among the rural folk. These include advising them to practise self-isolation if their children are sick to prevent the spread of the disease,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development and Selangau MP Datuk Joseph Entulu advised village security and development committees (JKKKs) to impress on longhouse residents the importance of maintaining a high level of hygiene and cleanliness at all times.
“Be aware of the HFMD symptoms and send children for immediate medical attention when sick,” Entulu advised them.
Association of Longhouse Chiefs Sibu (PTRS) advisor Penghulu James Semilan, meanwhile, urged parents to keep an eye on their children to ensure that they do not play in dirty rivers or places that can pose risk to their health.
Semilan, too, emphasised the importance of maintaining surroundings so as to keep diseases at bay.
“Whenever, your child is not feeling well, don’t wait but go see a doctor immediately,” he advised.