THAILAND - The Public Health Ministry yesterday convened a meeting with paediatricians to prepare clear guidelines on minimising fatalities from hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). This meeting was held a couple of days after lab tests officially confirmed that HFMD had killed a toddler in the country. Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri chaired the meeting, which was attended by paediatricians from both state and private hospitals.
HFMD mostly infects young children and adults are mostly immune to this communicable disease.
Department of Medical Services director general Dr Tawee Chotpitayasunondh said the meeting aimed to equip paediatricians with guidelines that would help them diagnose HFMD quickly and more accurately.
According to Tawee, HFMD has already affected 16,860 people this year and one of them has succumbed to the disease so far.
"If children have a temperature of 39 Celsius degrees or more for 48 hours, are found vomiting or being lethargic, they need to be put under close medical supervision," Tawee said.
Office of the Private Education Commission deputy secretarygeneral Charnwit Tupsupun said two more private schools in Bangkok had been closed down in the wake of the HFMD outbreak.
"Seven students came down with the disease in each of these schools. They will be closed until July 29 [Sunday]," Charnwit said.
The schools in question are St Francis Xavier Convent and Anuban Pasita.
In Ranong, provincial publichealth chief Dr Thongchai Kiratihattayakorn said 20 children had been diagnosed with HFMD this month.
"The disease usually spreads during the rainy season. We will dispatch officials to all 43 childcare centres across the province, including the 13 centres for Myanmar children, in a bid to detect HFMD faster," Thongchai said. "If HFMD cases are detected, these centres should be closed to prevent the disease from spreading."
In Kanchanaburi, Thavornvittaya Kanchanaburi School has shut its doors for a week from yesterday after four of its students were found infected with HFMD. Provincial publichealth officials have been summoned to disinfect buildings in this 3,000student facility.
Closure has successfully prevented the spread of HFMD at the Tessaban 3 (Ban Bor) School in Kanchanaburi, which reopened yesterday.
"Five of our students were diagnosed with HFMD last week. So, we decided to close the school temporarily," the school's director Bussaba Karnwareetip said. "After reopening, no students were detected with HFMD infections. Those previously infected have already recovered fully."
According to the Education Ministry, 57 confirmed cases of HFMD were found at schools across the country on Tuesday. Khon Kaen and Prachin Buri saw the highest number of HFMD incidences with 16 students infected in each province.
In the week from July 16, 350 HFMD cases were confirmed and 52 were suspected at 87 schools.
"Of the 52, 43 have already recovered," Benjarong Srinet said in his capacity as chief of the ministry's Special Affairs Bureau.