HFDM outbreak closes two more Penang schools

Opalyn Mok
Wan Mansor confirmed that SJK(C) Shih Chung was closed yesterday afternoon due to HFMD cases. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, July 11 — Two more primary schools in Penang have shuttered due to the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) outbreak.

Penang Health Department director Dr Wan Mansor Hamzah confirmed that SJK(C) Shih Chung was closed yesterday afternoon due to HFMD cases.

The other two schools, Union Kindergarten and SJK(C) Sum Sun, were ordered to close today, he said.

He explained that schools with dual sessions where classrooms are shared have to be closed for 10 days to clean up the whole premises.

Single-session schools can continue operating as usual while only the affected classes will be closed, he said.

SJK(C) Phor Tay reported an outbreak of HFMD cases last night, and closed six of its classes while others remained open.

“The entire Tenby International School has to be closed too,” he said.

This brings the total primary schools affected by HFDM to five in the state.

State exco Dr Afif Bahardin said all of the affected primary schools are on the island.

Wan Mansor said a total 61 premises, not including the latest three primary schools, were closed due to HFDM since January.

“As at 12pm yesterday, a total 13 kindergartens, a nursery and a daycare centre are still closed,” he said in a press conference today.

He said there are four children still under observation in the Penang Hospital and Seberang Jaya Hospital.

Penang has recorded a drastic spike in HFMD cases this year with a total 1,673 cases reported as at July 10.

Afif urged parents to practice self-quarantine when their children are infected with HFMD.

“Do not let your child go to school, stay home with them so as not to spread the virus to other children,” he said.

HFMD is caused by viral infections of the Coxsackie A16 and Enterovirus 71 (EV71) strains.

The virus is spread through saliva, blisters and feces of those infected.

Symptoms of the disease included fever, rashes or blisters on the palms and feet and ulcers in the mouth and tongue.

*Editor's note: Earlier, the Health Department erroneously stated that SJK (C) Chung San was one of the schools ordered to close. It is Union Kindergarten that has to close.