KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 — Malaysia has recorded double the number of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases since pre-pandemic times, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin revealed today.
From January 1 until May 25 this year, 57,510 cases were reported compared to 27,664 cases in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic hit and nationwide lockdowns imposed.
In comparison with 2021, the increase in cases he said was 24-fold as only 2,333 cases were reported last year.
“The spike in cases was evident in April when we reopened social activities and school attendances were in full flow across the board.
“This coupled with lax self-hygiene, no social distancing and lack of a face mask contributed to the infections,” Khairy said during a press conference today.
The five states with the most cases are Selangor (16,286 cases), Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (7,298 cases), Perak (5,045 cases), Kelantan (4,194 cases) and Sabah (3,829 cases).
Khairy said the majority of infections were found in children aged below 12, with 92 per cent coming from those below the age of six at 52,486 cases, whereas there were only 3,741 reported cases among those aged seven to 12.
To mitigate the spread of the disease, Khairy said the Ministry of Health (MoH) has taken several measures, among them raising awareness and empowering district health offices nationwide to conduct early detection and break the transmission of infections.
He said cases have hit more than 1,000 a week since the middle of May and the first step was to reduce them to 800, strengthen surveillance activities, raise awareness among the community and improve cooperation among the various agencies.
Khairy said the experience of living with the Covid-19 pandemic for two years has made Malaysia ready should another mass infection occur.
He added MoH will use the MySejahtera app to monitor those infected with HFMD
No cases of monkeypox in Malaysia yet
He also said that travellers from countries that have reported cases of monkeypox will have to monitor themselves for 21 days upon arrival with the app.
“Visitors will receive an alert on the app reminding them to be aware of their health status for three weeks as monkeypox is said to incubate for 21 days.
“All our officers and health officers at the international entry points will be trained to look for signs of the disease and for the hospitals and health sector to be ready to isolate and treat those who may have the disease,” Khairy said.
“I want to reiterate, we have no cases of monkeypox yet, but we still need to raise awareness so people know what to look out for and what to do to help us reduce infections.”
The monkeypox virus has emerged in several countries, including Canada, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, France, Italy, the United States, Switzerland and Austria.
Nations under the endemic list for monkeypox are Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo and Nigeria.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed over 100 positive cases of the virus worldwide.
The monkeypox virus is spread through close contact with people, animals or material infected with the virus.
It enters the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, the eyes, nose and mouth.