GEORGE TOWN, June 14 — Penang recorded 4,263 cases of the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) as at epidemiological week 23, state health executive councillor Norlela Ariffin said today.

The number of cases in the state has grown 32 times compared to the total last year, she added.

“The number of cases is also 1.5 times more than the number of cases before Covid-19 in 2019,” she said in a statement.

She added that there have been 118 clusters noted so far, which makes Penang the fourth state with the highest number of HFMD clusters.

She said the state ordered 120 premises shut as at June 11. They comprised 49 nurseries, 38 kindergartens, 17 pre-schools while the remaining 16 are daycare centres and schools.

However, as of today, she said only two premises are still closed as the 118 have been allowed to reopen.

Norlela said any premises with more than two reported HFMD cases reported will be ordered closed for six days.

“The closure of premises is only for six days as the virus incubation period is between three to five days,” she explained.

She said that the closure period was initially set at 10 days, but has since been cut down to prevent parents from sending their children, who may be infected with HFMD, to other centres.

She said the state also required all children sent to nurseries, kindergartens, primary schools and daycare centres to be screened for symptoms such as fever, blisters on hands and ulcers inside their mouths and runny nose.

All of these centres have also been asked to conduct frequent disinfection exercises, to ensure there are available soaps for the children to wash their hands in the toilets and to isolate children with symptoms.

Norlela said the state health department has also advised that places holding events for children, such as colouring contests, postpone them for the time being.