HFMD in Penang 'a little alarming' but under control: Health Minister

PUTRAJAYA: Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad today described the state of the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) in Penang as "a little alarming" but gave the assurance that the situation is under control.

As of yesterday, 1,616 cases of HFMD were recorded in the state, up from about 1,500 cases last Friday.

Dzulkefly said the situation was under control following the measures that were taken by the ministry and the state director of health.

"Once the disease was detected, I contacted the deputy director-general of health, Datuk Dr Azman Abu Bakar, to discuss the measures that could be taken.

"Following that, Azman issued a directive to all state directors of health and hospital directors to take immediate steps to contain the disease," he said to reporters at an event with the ministry staff here.

Dzulkefly said the Disease Control Division of the ministry had been instructed to conduct an investigation and take more effective immediate measures to address the situation.

Last Friday, Penang Health, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, and Rural Development Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin reportedly said that 1,555 cases of HFMD had occurred in the state between January and July 4 compared to 1,050 cases in the corresponding period last year.

HFMD is caused by a virus and the symptoms include fever, rashes on the palms and legs, and ulcers in the mouth and on the tongue.

On another matter, Dzulkefly expressed confidence in the commitment of the ministry staff in discharging their duties, especially those serving in hospitals, and said it was unnecessary to conduct spot checks to prove that.

"I do not have to make spot checks. Even if I make a surprise visit, it is to get closer to the staff to obtain the feedback they have from the people," he said.

Dzulkefly also said that Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, who collapsed during the monthly assembly of the Prime Minister's Department here today, was in stable condition but under the intensive care of doctors.

"I was informed that he is in stable condition and is out of danger. He has to be monitored for at least 24 hours," he said.

Mohamed Hanipa, 49, had fallen off the stage at the assembly while Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was delivering his speech and was rushed to the Putrajaya Hospital after paramedics had attended to him. — Bernama