MINISTER THWAITES ADVISED SCHOOLS CLOSED: Outbreak Of Hand Foot And Mouth Disease In Schools....We are talking about infant schools and basic schools; there are 2,600 of them in Jamaica.

Published:Tuesday | September 29, 2015Corey Robinson & Ruddy Mathison
Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites is advising schools where children are affected by the hand, foot and mouth disease that it would be best if they remain closed until the children have recovered.
"We are talking about infant schools and basic schools; there are 2,600 of them in Jamaica. Our reports from SERHA (South East Regional Health Authority) is that there is an outbreak in nine of those schools, so it needs to be put in that perspective," said Thwaites late yesterday. "What we do know is that it is very contagious and wherever there is an outbreak, the school would be better to suspend classes until the children are better."
The painful hand, foot and mouth disease which causes fever and blisters on the tongue, cheek and skin, has been found among children in nine schools across the Corporate Area and St Catherine, forcing the closure of at least two of them.
"The Health Department in the respective parishes has been working closely with the schools to minimise the spread of the disease. The schools have also been given guidelines for the management of hand, foot and mouth disease, and public-health inspectors have been deployed to the schools to assess the situations," noted Tanisha Lewis, public-relations officer at SERHA which is responsible for health facilities in the parishes
Yesterday, Chief Education Officer at the Ministry Of Education Grace McLean, said the ministry was still investigating the matter, but declined to name the schools affected. The Gleaner learned, however, that the Bridgeport Infant and Reliance Basic schools, located metres apart in Portmore, St Catherine, had been closed due to the outbreak.
"I have 48 children at my school and there are 12 reported cases that I am aware of," said a concerned Judith Royal Gardner, principal of Reliance Basic, who said for the past two weeks, parents have been turning up to school complaining that their children are falling ill.
She said that while they all complained of rashes and fevers, the parents reported various diagnoses from private doctors, including scabies.
"When the health inspectors came on (last) Thursday they told us that it is the hand, foot and mouth disease. She said that my school was the first one in Portmore and that it had to be closed down as a result of the outbreak. They gave us until Monday, October 5, but that is if we meet certain requirements," she said, listing the acquisition of a backup water tank as the most important target.
She said that the school was cleaned and sprayed with pesticides yesterday and that a water tank has been identified for the school. "I am doing my very best, making sure that all the requirements that have been outlined by the health inspectors are put in place," said Gardner. more

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