EARLIER this month, there were seven new cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) at my daughter's pre-school.
It seems that HFMD has made a quiet return, according to friends who have pre-schoolers as well as a quick check of postings on online forums.
What is more worrying is that parents seem to have forgotten about the seriousness of HFMD when it peaked just a couple of months ago.
I believe schools are doing their best to make sure that the school environment is safe. Students are checked daily for high temperatures, as well as suspicious ulcers and spots.
Toys and teaching equipment are cleaned and disinfected daily. Some schools even engage professional cleaners to disinfect their premises.
There is a lot of information on HFMD in the media, provided by ministries and government agencies. Schools also send out reminders to parents, asking them to keep their sick children at home.
However, there is an appalling lack of social responsibility and civic-mindedness on the parents' part.
I have seen parents take their children who are running a high fever to school. They would argue with the teachers, saying that the school thermometers are inaccurate. Some parents even deny that the ulcers their children have are signs of HFMD.
Some adults are also guilty when it comes to their own condition. One person came back to work after staying at home for three days, even though he knew he should have stayed at home. Imagine the number of people he might have infected at work as well as on his way to work on public transport.
Parents often cite work commitments and the lack of alternative childcare arrangements for "dumping" their kids at childcare centres even when they are sick.
But these same parents would probably protest the most should the childcare centres close in order to stem the spread of the virus.
The social costs incurred by these irresponsible people are tremendous.
Can the Ministry of Health make the quarantine period for a person infected or potentially infected with HFMD mandatory, much like the way it was during the Sars outbreak?
Ms Neo Lih Miin
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