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HFMD cases on the rise: What employers need to know

Malaysia's Negeri Sembilan Health Department has recorded a total of 1,350 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) from January to 19 July 2018, said State Health, Environment, Cooperatives and Consumerism Committee chairman S. Veerapan, in a Bernama report.

This indicated an increase of 139.8% compared to the same period last year when there were 536 cases.

With a large year-on-year increase in the number of cases recorded, the World Health Organization (WHO) provides the following regional insights (as of the week of 19 June 2018, i.e. week 23 of 2018):

  • Hong Kong SAR: In week 23, 8 HFMD cases were reported from sentinel hospital sites. A total of 81 cases have been reported in 2018.
  • Singapore: In week 22, 2018, there were 848 cases of HFMD reported. A cumulative total of 18,643 cases have been reported since the start of 2018, following the seasonal yoy trend.
  • China: Between 1 and 31 May 2018, a total of 387,135 cases of HFMD and five deaths were reported in China. This is an 83.3% increase from the same period in 2017.

Recently, Penang’s State Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin urged private sector employers to allow employees whose children have been diagnosed with HFMD to take unrecorded leave, as reported in Free Malaysia Today

Bahardin commented on how job commitments might hold parents back from tending to their children and remedying their condition which usually requires them to be quarantined.

Presently, civil servants in Malaysia are eligible to take up to five days of unrecorded leave if their children are suffering from HFMD and similar comminicable diseases.

ALSO READ: Do parents need 5-day leave to tend to children affected by HFMD?

Per WHO's factsheet, preventive measures for HFMD include:

  • Frequent handwashing with soap and water especially after touching any blister or sore, before preparing food and eating, before feeding young infants, and after using the toilet.
  • Cleaning contaminated surfaces and soiled items (including toys) first with soap and water, and then disinfecting them using a dilute solution of chlorine-containing bleach.
  • Avoiding close contact (kissing, hugging, sharing utensils, etc.) with children with HFMD may also help to reduce of the risk of infection
  • Keeping infants and sick children away from kindergarten, nursery, school or gatherings until they are well.
  • Covering mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing.
  • Disposing properly of used tissues and nappies into waste bins that close properly.

Photo / 123RF

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