Over 600 new cases of hand, foot and mouth disease reported in Malaysia

Over 600 new cases of hand, foot and mouth disease were reported in an eastern Malaysian in recent days, even after authorities closed kindergartens to curb its spread among children, a news report said Tuesday.

A total of 601 new cases of the disease were reported from Friday through Sunday in Malaysia's Sarawak state, adding to the nearly 1,000 cases reported from January to Feb. 18, the local Star newspaper quoted the state's deputy Chief Minister George Chan as saying.

Forty-seven people remain hospitalized.

"The people should not be taking this lightly, as the consequences can be serious," Chan said.

No further details were given and messages left for Chan were not returned.

Sarawak state, on Borneo island, shut its kindergartens earlier this month to stop the disease from spreading. Hand, foot and mouth disease is feared to have killed several children this year.

Enterovirus 71 is the most dangerous of several viruses that cause the disease, which has symptoms including sores, rashes and fever, reports the AP.

I.L.