Thestar : Follow all medical advice given, Sarawakians told

Follow all medical advice given, Sarawakians told
Tuesday March 7, 2006

MIRI: The hand, foot and mouth disease outbreak in Sarawak, which saw 601 new cases over the last three days, is beginning to worry the authorities.

They are particularly concerned that people are not paying serious attention to the problem, with many parents still sending their children to kindergartens despite the Health Ministrys directive to all 488 kindergartens in the state to close.

In view of this, Deputy Chief Minister and State Disaster Relief Committee chairman Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam, who announced the figures, urged the people to take a serious view of the disease and follow all medical advice given in the last few weeks.

The people should not take this lightly, as the consequences can be serious, he said in an interview yesterday.

However, he noted that the number of new cases between Sunday and Monday had dropped compared with the previous 24 hours.

Nevertheless, we want to ensure the figures are lowered as much as possible, he said.

Despite the new cases, there are no more fatalities, and none of the reported cases is critical in nature.

The number of hospital admissions due to this disease so far is 358, but as of yesterday, only 47 were still in hospital, he said.

For the 24-hour period from 7am on Friday to Saturday, 211 new cases were reported. From Saturday to Sunday, the figure was 287 and from Sunday to yesterday, it was 103.

Between Jan 1 and Feb 18, the number of cases was 942, compared with the 270 in the corresponding period last year.

He said the state health authorities had taken aggressive measures to try to curb the spread of the disease.

Dr Chan said that besides the closure of kindergartens and pre-school facilities for two weeks, the government had stepped up health surveillance and started cleaning up areas affected by the outbreak.

Meanwhile, concerned groups and members of the public have called for clear-cut measures and concrete guidelines from the federal and state health authorities on what needs to be done immediately.

Miri Consumers Association president George Francis said the authorities needed to come up with clear-cut measures and guidelines, as the electronic media was not doing enough to educate the public.

We know the authorities at both federal and state levels are trying their best to check the spread, he said.

However, there must be more specific measures to educate the people on this disease and why it is spreading so quickly, and how to contain it.

At the moment, it seems that there is no specific treatment available because HFM is a viral disease.

Sarawak Teachers Union president William Gani Bina urged the government to censure stubborn kindergartens which were defying the Health Ministrys directive to close for two weeks.

He said there were complaints from the public that some kindergartens were still open yesterday morning.

I have checked on these complaints. Some of the operators said they had not received any written directive to close.

This is a serious health issue. In emergency cases, there is no need to wait for a black-and-white order. The health of our children is at risk, he said.

Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek will be in Miri today for an official visit to the various medical facilities there.