More preschools, day cares closing due to hand, foot and mouth disease

May 7th, 2008 - 1:16 pm ICT by admin  

Singapore, May 7 (DPA) More preschools and childcare centres in Singapore have been told to close amid increasing cases of a virulent strain of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), health officials said Wednesday. Tests show that 26 percent of the 10,490 children infected so far this year contracted the EV-71 virus that has killed 26 youngsters in China.

No fatalities have been reported in the outbreak in the city-state, but Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan told The Straits Times that his ministry has been enforcing stricter measures to stop the spread.

“We expect cases to remain high for a few more weeks,” a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying.

Seventeen day-care centres have been told to shut down for 10 days. The ministry wants 48 preschools and child-care centres to close voluntarily for more than 15 days.

Forced closure is ordered when a centre has 13 sick children, and transmission of the virus has not been broken after 15 days.

So far this year, 130 children have been hospitalised. There is no vaccine against the virus.

State media in China reported Tuesday that EV71 cases had risen to more than 12,000, with 26 children killed.

Taiwan has also seen a spike in EV71 infections this year.

Singapore ordered all preschools and child-care centres to temporarily close in 2000. Cases dropped, but parents were forced to scramble for alternative childcare arrangements.

The ministry told the newspaper it is not considering a repeat of the massive closure.

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