GEORGE TOWN: All supermarkets and shopping complexes in Penang have been ordered to disinfect the trolleys, toys and benches on their premises following an increase in the number of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases in the state.
Chairman of the state Health, Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry and Rural Development Committee, Dr Afif Bahardin, said the directive was issued by the Penang Health Department after checks found that these items were among the causes of the spread of the disease.
He said the directive was issued on Jul 20 and these premises have been urged to use bleach at a ratio of 1:10 to curb the spread of the disease.
“Yes, it is true there has been such a directive as spread on the social media ... as I have said before, the spread of HFMD is not just through trollies at the supermarkets of shopping malls, but also at the children’s playgrounds there.
“So I hope the owners and operators of the supermarkets and shopping centres abide by the directive by cleaning their business premises so as to curb the spread of HFMD in Penang,” he told reporters.
Dr Afif said if any family member had HFMD, they should immediately seek medical treatment and be quarantined indoors so that they do not infect other people.
On the latest status of HFMD in Penang, he said there has been an increase of 128 new cases on Sunday and Monday, bringing the current total of cases to 2,559 compared to 1,102 during the same period last year.
He said 13 patients were still being treated at the Penang Hospital, Seberang Jaya Hospital and private hospitals. The condition of these patients, aged between one and 10 years, is reported to be stable.
“So far, 23 premises have been closed down due to the spread of the disease, involving four primary schools, nurseries (six), kindergartens (seven), pre-schools (five) and one nursery. The schools and classes which are still closed are Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Juara, Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina (SJKC) Moh Ghee (Central), SJKC Beng Teik (Central) and SJKC Kwang Hwa," he said.
HFMD is a contagious disease caused by viruses and symptoms include fever, rashes on the palms and feet, ulcers in the mouth and tongue, as well as upper respiratory tract infection (URTI).
It is spread through contact with saliva, blisters or faeces.