The Centre for Health Protection has advised WF Joseph Lee Primary School in Yuen Long to suspend classes for junior students until June 4 due to hand-foot-mouth disease. A new case was reported despite enhanced infection-control measures.
Six Primary 1 students came down with symptoms from May 8 to 16. Of them, a seven-year-old girl was confirmed to have been infected with Enterovirus-71 on May 17. All are in stable condition.
While the centre visited the school on May 16 and cleansing measures have been enhanced, a new case involving another seven-year-old Primary 1 student was detected on May 20. The girl was admitted to Tuen Mun Hospital and is stable.
As there were activities that included Primary 1 and 2 classes together in the school, the centre advised it to suspend classes for such students for two weeks from tomorrow for thorough disinfection to prevent further spread.
The centre will closely monitor the situation. Parents should pay attention to their children's health condition, and remind them to observe good personal and environmental hygiene.
The centre today also confirmed another case of EV-71 infection involving a three-year-old boy. He came down with fever, sore throat and a rash over his hands on May 17 and went to a general outpatient clinic on May 19.
In the Legislative Council today, Secretary for Food & Health Dr York Chow said the centre has put in place a surveillance system to closely monitor hand-foot-mouth disease and enterovirus infections in Hong Kong and neighbouring regions. It is also implementing comprehensive preventive, control and surveillance measures to protect public health.
He noted there has been a rise in hand-foot-mouth disease cases in recent months.
Surveillance figures in April showed the consultation rate for these cases by sentinel private doctors ranged from 1.3 to 1.9 cases per 1,000 consultations - higher than the March figures, which ranged from 0.5 to 1.5 cases per 1,000 consultations.
Up to May 21, Hong Kong has recorded 25 EV-71 infection cases, higher than the numbers in previous years. There were 12 last year, 16 in 2006, eight in 2005 and 35 in 2004. But no fatal case was ever reported. There were 41,000 hand-foot-mouth cases in the Mainland so far.
The centre's surveillance system includes outbreak notification, laboratory surveillance and sentinel surveillance at specific clinics and childcare centres. It also maintained close communication with the Ministry of Health and the health authorities of neighbouring places.
In Hong Kong, Coxsackie A virus and EV-71 virus are the common causative agent for hand-foot-mouth disease, causing about 75% and 20% of such outbreaks. The disease occurs in Hong Kong throughout the year and the peak is usually in summer time.
The centre may consider advising affected schools, childcare centres or kindergartens to suspend classes for thorough cleansing and disinfection for 14 days when deemed necessary.
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