The number of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases in Singapore has hit a new record high.
In a weekly infectious disease bulletin, the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported that the number of HFMD cases reached 1,590 for the week of 22-28 April 2012, up from 1,394 cases the previous week.
The number of weekly infections has been keeping steady above the epidemic threshold of 780 cases a week since mid-February, when it shot up to 815.
In comparison, the number of HFMD cases in 2011 never broke through to epidemic levels.
According to the ministry, childcare centres in Singapore will be mandatorily closed for 10 days if it has more than 16 HFMD cases or an attack rate greater than 23 per cent (the number of HFMD cases divided by the enrollment at the childcare centre) and a transmission period of more than 24 days.
HFMD infection can be identified if a child has fever, mouth ulcers and rashes on the palms, soles or buttocks.
Parents are also advised to ensure that their children adopt good personal hygiene practices to avoid getting the disease, like:
- Washing hands with soap before eating and going to the toilet;
- Covering mouths with tissue when coughing or sneezing, and then disposing of the tissue immediately;
- Not sharing eating utensils.
The Straits Times quoted a spokesman for the Ministry of Health (MOH) as saying that the current HFMD strain in Singapore is a mild one.