Taipei, May 9 (CNA) School authorities in New Taipei suspended 31 classes in the first week of May amid a rising number of cases of hand, foot and mouth disease among children, a Department of Health official said Wednesday.
A total of 34 cases linked to enterovirus 71, a virulent form of the disease characterized by high fever, lethargy, shortness of breath and frequent vomiting, had been confirmed nationwide as of Tuesday, four of which were in New Taipei, said health official Lee Chia-chi.
Schools are ordered to suspend a class for seven days if two students in the same class are infected with the disease, Lee said, adding that 233 classes have been suspended in New Taipei so far this year.
From January to March, 10-20 classes were suspended per week in New Taipei, she went on. However, the figure jumped to 31 classes in the first week in May, an indication that the number of cases is increasing.
Lin noted that as no serious outbreaks linked to the highly contagious enterovirus 71 have occurred in the country since 2008, many children in Taiwan have no immunity to the disease.
She advised the public to practice frequent hand-washing and to visit doctors in big hospitals instead of clinics if they develop symptoms similar to those of the disease.
(By Chen Chi-chung and Ann Chen)