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Some Saint Lucia Early Childhood Centres have reported cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease, prompting the Ministry of Education to advise that students at the institutions stay home.
“What I would have heard from my Acting Chief Education Officer is that there are a few cases at the Jacmel Early Childhood Centre and a few Centres in the North and so we have had to ask that the students at those centres be kept home,” Education Minister Shawn Edward said.
“We are working very closely with the Ministry of Health to bring that situation under control,” Edward explained.
His remarks came during an interview with reporters on the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting on Monday.
Regarding protocols to avoid any massive disease spread, the Dennery North MP said he would rather let Ministry of Health officials speak.
“For us, we work with them – the technical people as it relates to the outbreak of any disease or ailment in schools,” he stated.
“Once they have apprised us of the situation from a public health standpoint then we act to make a decision as to whether we should allow schools to continue or we close,” Edward observed.
“In the case of Jacmel and the other centres where cases have been reported and based on the assessments that have been made in collaboration with health, the decision has been made to ask the students at those centres to stay home,” the Minister told reporters.
Last month the Ministry of Health, citing reports of hand, foot and mouth disease, urged vigilance as schools reopened.
According to the Ministry, the disease is endemic in Saint Lucia, mostly affects children under five, and is highly contagious.
It also warned that the disease can spread quickly and encouraged prevention methods.
The measures included frequent hand-washing, cough etiquette, isolating a sick child, notifying the parents and ensuring sick children remain at home.
“Hand, foot, and mouth disease is not a serious illness, but in very rare cases it can lead to hospitalisation,” Medical Surveillance Officer – Dr. Dana DaCosta Gomez explained.
Symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease usually include fever, mouth sores, and skin rash. The rash is commonly found on the hands and feet.