Penang is a popular holiday destination for Singaporeans. Its proximity means that we can even go there for a weekend getaway. However, Penang has recently been affected by a severe HFMD outbreak. With the recent outbreak, many schools, nurseries and daycare centres have been closed down as a result.
HFMD is a viral infection which can affect both adults and children. However, young children below the age of five are more susceptible to it because they do not have the immunity to ward off the disease.
The HFMD virus can spread through contact with bodily discharge from an infected person ( i.e. saliva, fluids from a rash, nasal discharge and faeces). It can also remain on contaminated surfaces and objects as well, resulting in the virus spreading like wildfire.
HFMD Virus on Trolleys and Child Rides
While investigating the main cause of the outbreak in Penang, officials found traces of the HFMD virus on trolleys and child rides in malls. But that was not all. The Sun Daily also reported on Monday (Jul 23) that even toys and chairs in malls were found to be contaminated with the HFMD virus.
Just imagine the hundreds and thousands of families that frequent the mall every day and the parents who put their children in trolleys every time they go grocery shopping.
Think about how many rotations these trolleys go through, only to be cleaned at the end of the day. How about children who frequent lifestyle shops and start touching all the soft toys there? Or how many tired children who sit in the chairs to have a rest. The transfer of the HFMD virus through trolleys, child rides, benches and toys is just endless!
Authorities have since advised all shopping malls to disinfect these items to prevent the disease from spreading even more. Shopping malls will still remain open. For now, the State Health Department has no plans of closing public playgrounds and amusement centres. So ultimately it is up to us parents to be aware of the dangers of this virus and how it lurks in shopping trolleys, playgrounds and other public amenities.
The control and prevention of infectious diseases, including HFMD, require all parties to play an active role. And it should start with yourself and at home.
- Always maintain high standards of personal hygiene by washing your hands after going to the toilet, changing diapers, or touching blisters.
- To contain the disease, waste and diaper disposal should be done properly.
- Clean and disinfect toys and surfaces using household bleach.
- Make sure your children’s schools run screenings before they are allowed to enter.
- Keep a lookout for HFMD symptoms like fever, rash or blisters on the palms and soles. Isolate infected ones immediately.
Singaporean Families Heading to Penang
Parents might think that using hand sanitiser often on their kids is enough to protect them from HFMD. This is not necessarily true because the HFMD virus is a more resistant virus that is difficult to remove and kill. Ordinary alcohol sanitisers are insufficient.
The HFMD virus is a type of virus which is more resistant to water and regular cleansers. Unlike normal viruses which can be easily washed off with water, the HFMD virus stays on a surface until a proper cleanser is used to remove it.
The outer structure of the HFMD virus provides the virus itself with resistance against detergents and alcohol. Despite this, experts agree that hand washing is still key to controlling the spread.
It is probably best to avoid crowded areas if you’re heading up to Penang. While there, remember to practice extra caution. Do heed the possibility of HFMD virus on trolleys and child rides, toys and even mall benches. Reduce the risks, by ensuring that your children jack up their personal hygiene standards and continue to wash their hands more frequently when they are out.