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More HFMD cases recently, but ‘no cause for alarm’

SINGAPORE — More cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) are being reported in Singapore compared with the same period last year, according to weekly figures published by the Ministry of Health, but doctors TODAY spoke to said parents do not have to be alarmed.

SINGAPORE — More cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) are being reported in Singapore compared with the same period last year, according to weekly figures published by the Ministry of Health, but doctors TODAY spoke to said parents do not have to be alarmed.

There were 568 HFMD cases from Dec 6 to 12 this year, compared with 302 during the same period last year. For this period from 2010 to 2014, the median number of HFMD cases was also 302.

The numbers started going up in mid-October, with 585 cases reported, compared with 381 cases during the same period last year.

There were 502 HFMD cases in the first week of November, compared with 377 last year.

The number of HFMD cases as of mid-June was reported to be nearly 50 per cent higher than during a similar period last year.

Ms Jessie Soh, vice-principal of School House by the Garden at Hougang, said her centre had seen six HFMD cases in the past two weeks.

A parent told TODAY that she received a text message yesterday evening from the centre’s teacher, notifying parents of one more HFMD case there, bringing the total number to seven cases.

Ms Soh said: “We are keeping parents updated regularly via text message to inform them whenever there is a new case, and we need parents to cooperate with us also. If (their children) have HFMD, try not to bring them to public places, and practise more on hygiene ....”

Ms Sharizan, principal of Cambridge Pre-School at Hougang, said: “There hadn’t been any cases until the last week of November — there were about seven — but they had already been cleared by the first week of December.”

A spokesperson from Etonhouse said there had been a “small number of isolated cases” sometime this year, but the centres had managed to contain the spread of the virus.

She added that Etonhouse has policies aimed at minimising “cross-infection in early childhood settings”, such as a specific hand-washing schedule and technique.

Dr Tze Lee Tan, a general practitioner at The Edinburgh Clinic in Choa Chu Kang, said he has seen a “slight spike” in HFMD cases.

It is not unusual, as “it comes in waves”, he told TODAY.

One parent whose six-year-old son and three-year-old daughter contracted HFMD at about the same time last week is Mr Gavin Chow, who is a director of an industrial insulation fabrics company.

He said the teachers at his daughter’s childcare centre had called him to take her home after checking her hands and mouth.

His children are now recovering, and the 36-year-old single dad said he was not too worried about the HFMD situation.

“I feel we have a bit more of such (HFMD) cases because we are too hygienic, our bodies have very low resistance to bacteria,” said Mr Chow.

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