A Penang state executive councillor today urged private sector employers to allow their employees whose children have been diagnosed with hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) to take unrecorded leave.
State Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin said some parents were reluctant to be quarantined at home with their sick children due to their job commitments.
He said it was important for parents to impose a quarantine on their children at home.
“For government staff, we have five days of quarantine leave, which is separate from the annual leave. Hence, this is not an issue for government staff.
“I would like to urge private sector employers whose workers have children diagnosed with the disease to be given similar unrecorded leave.
“This will help prevent the spread of the disease,” he said today.
HFMD cases have seen a spike of 56.6% in the first half of this year compared with the corresponding period last year until July 10.
Afif urged parents to take the quarantine seriously and not to allow their infected children to go out to public spaces or shopping malls.
“This should not happen. Those who are sick should be quarantined at home.
“If not, it will cause further infection to other children in public places. Parents should take note of this.”
The total number of facilities closed in the first half of this year is 61, with 17 remaining closed to date.
SJK(C) Phor Tay has had six of its classes closed due to the outbreak, while the entire Tenby International School has been closed, he said.
The SJK(C) Shih Chung branch closed yesterday afternoon, and another two schools, SJK(C) Chung San and SJK(C) Sum Sun, are undergoing strict monitoring.
Penang Health Department director Dr Wan Mansor Hamzah said schools with dual sessions, where classrooms are shared, would have to be closed for the required 10 days for the entire premises to be cleaned up.
He said while the situation was under control, the state Health Department was actively monitoring the situation.
“There is no need for the public to worry. We just need the cooperation of parents.
“If their children have HFMD symptoms, they must immediately bring them to the clinic to get treatment. Don’t bring them to public areas, schools or childcare centres.”
In SEREMBAN, the Negeri Sembilan Health Department said it recorded 1,147 HFMD cases up to July 8 this year.
Its director, Dr Zainudin Mohd Ali, said the number was an increase of 114%, compared with the 536 cases reported over the same period last year.
“So far, there has been no closure of schools, kindergartens or child care centres in the state,” he told Bernama here today.
Zainudin said following the significant increase in the number of HFMD cases, between March and April, the department had implemented various control measures, including awareness programmes to the community.
He also advised the operators and staff of kindergartens and child care centres to keep their premises clean, especially the equipment being used by the children, and to screen those under their care to ensure they showed no signs or symptoms of HFMD.