SHAH ALAM, June 1 — The Health Ministry (MOH) has revealed that the 71,471 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) were recorded as of epidemiology week (ME) 22/2022 (May 30) nationwide, was a spike of 28 times compared to the same period last year.
Deputy Health Minister I Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said 2,485 cases of HFMD were logged in the same period last year while there were 30,489 cases in 2019.
Dr Noor Azmi said from the total of 65,032 cases, 91 per cent of the total were reported among children aged six and below while 5,194 cases (7 per cent) were in the 7 to 12 years old age group.
“For the 1,573 cases reported in ME 22, 61 per cent of them (956 cases) occurred in nurseries, kindergartens and preschools while 35 per cent took place at private homes involving 548 cases,” he said in a media conference after a HFMD townhall meeting (THM) at the Raja Tun Uda Library today which was also attended by Selangor Health director Datuk Dr Sha’ari Ngadiman.
Dr Noor Azmi said HFMD cases in Selangor also showed a similar pattern to the national trend with almost 30 per cent of HFMD cases reported in the state until May 30.
“Petaling district in Selangor recorded the highest number of cases at 3.8 per cent (7,247 cases) from 20,433 overall HFMD cases in Selangor. The number of HFMD cases among children below seven years old had increased since early 2022.
“The number of weekly cases had exceeded the warning level since ME 15 and there were 182 HFMD clusters reported involving 773 cases with 83 per cent of them involving clusters in nurseries, kindergartens and day-care centres. For other states, the cases were less than 12 per cent,” he said.
Dr Noor Azmi said based on the latest MOH data, 691 nurseries, kindergartens and preschools were ordered to close under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease 1988 (Act 342) while 146 premises closed voluntarily.
“In Selangor, 216 premises were closed under Act 342 while 21 premises closed voluntarily,’ he said.
Commenting on the HFMD vaccine, Dr Noor Azmi understands that the vaccine for the disease is available in China but it does give complete protection to all types of variants.
“The vaccine is only focused on EV71 virus. There are many variants of the HFMD virus. In Malaysia, we have many cases of Coxsackie and Enterovirus virus infection. Some are also the EV71 virus.
“I understand the vaccine is only for the EV71 virus so it is not ‘cost effective’ here because those affected by coxsackie or other viruses do not get immunity. So the better effort is isolate and treat symptomatically and look after the sanitation and cleanliness of premises,” he said.
Commenting on the allegation that the government did not control the price of the vaccine which reached hundreds of ringgit for two injections of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme for Children (PICKids), Dr Noor Azmi said the different prices depended on the services and consultations received by those who took the vaccine.
“We have a ceiling price (for Covid-19 vaccine) but the price charged by the private sector whether GP (private general practitioner) or hospital depends on different consultations and ‘consumables’ such as the use of needles and medicine given.
“It varies according to the facility. And that’s why prices (for vaccine injections in private) are so different. But the price of the Sinovac vaccine itself has a ceiling price. We (the government) have put it in place, ” he said.
Earlier, the THM was a proactive effort that combined several health education activities such as talks, distribution of health education materials, demonstrations of personal hygiene and disinfection of premises to participants, so that action can be taken when they return to their respective nurseries later.
The THM programme will continue to be implemented throughout the country, especially in states that have experienced a high increase in HFMD cases with a total of 187 THM sessions held throughout Malaysia until last May.