Hand Foot Mouth Disease cases are on the rise. According to a Channel NewsAsia report, Singapore saw over 25,000 cases reported in the first 29 weeks of the year, a 28 per cent increase as compared to the same period last year. Our neighbours across the borders are also affected by severe HFMD outbreaks, with Malaysia reporting its first HFMD fatality – a 17-month-old toddler – following over 40,000 cases recorded since January. And as a healthcare expert suggests, HFMD cases will continue to climb and may hit epidemic levels again.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) provides weekly updates on affected childcare centres and kindergartens in Singapore. Although there are no reports of closure, there are currently six childcare centres and one kindergarten on the list who have reported over 10 HFMD cases or an attack rate greater than 13 per cent, and a transmission period of more than 16 days (prolonged transmission).
- Agape Little Uni @ Compassvale
- KINDERLAND @ Revenue House
- My First Skool at 2 Punggol Drive
- New Life Community Services Childcare @J10
- My First Skool @ Blk 55 Toa Payoh Lorong 5
- My First Skool @ Blk 153 Rivervale Crescent
- St James Church Kindergarten (Harding)
There has yet to be any closure of childcare centres and kindergartens. Assessments for closure follow these triggers: (Transmission period > 24 days with number of cases > 16) or (Transmission period > 24 days with attack rate* > 23%)
So can parents do to keep their child and others safe from HFMD? MOH stresses the importance of maintaining high standards of personal and environmental hygiene, and ensure children adopt good hygiene practices:
- Frequently wash hands with soap e.g. before eating and after going to the toilet
- Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue away into a bin immediately
- Do not share food or drinks, eating utensils, toothbrushes or towels with others
MOH guidelines for parents:
- Parents should also ensure that articles such as toys or appliances that are contaminated by nasal or oral secretions are cleaned and disinfected before they are used again.
- Parents should consult a doctor early if their child has fever, mouth ulcers and rashes on the palms, soles or buttocks.
- Children with HFMD should remain at home until all the blisters have dried up. During this period, contact with other children should be avoided until the child recovers.
- The child should not be brought to any public or crowded places. Proper hygiene should also be practised at home so as to prevent transmission to other family members.
Stay updated on the HFMD situation here.