Students wash their hands before going to class in the southern province of Ben Tre.(Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - Students face several diseases at the beginning of the new school year, such as dengue fever, hand-foot-mouth disease, measles and flu, so epidemic prevention efforts should be strengthened, health experts warned.

Hoang Duc Hanh, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Health, said that measles cases were on the rise in the capital city during the past week.

The number of measles cases in the first seven months this year is four times higher than during the same period last year. Districts seeing a higher number of cases included Bac Tu Liem, Nam Tu Liem, Ha Dong, Hoang Mai and Dong Da.

Hand-foot-mouth disease is also likelier to break out at schools, especially kindergartens, said Hanh.

With more than 1,000 kindergartens operated in the capital city, if classrooms, toys and teaching aids were not cleaned properly, an epidemic could break out, he said.

Speaking about the danger of the disease, Tran Dac Phu, Director of the Preventive Medicines Department under the Ministry of Health (MoH), said that the disease often broke out around the beginning of a new school year because it spreads via ingestion and digestive bacteria, so more interpersonal contact increases the risk.  

“When only one child suffers from the disease, all the surrounding others can easily catch it, so school hygiene should be taken care of,” said Phu.

Doctor Do Thien Hai, deputy head of the Isolation Ward under the National Paediatrics Hospital, said that the disease could become a great epidemic with serious after-effects. It tends to become worse and worse after only a few hours, he said.

Typical symptoms include fever, mouth sores and a skin rash. If children have the symptoms, they should be taken to hospitals quickly to avoid unfortunate consequences, he said.

Dengue fever decreased significantly in Hanoi this year, but people still should be vigilant, said Nguyen Nhat Cam, Director of the Hanoi Department of Preventive Medicines.

To prevent the disease from breaking out, the department is joining hands with schools to give education and conduct preventive measures such as spraying medicines, killing mosquito larvae and keeping the school’s environment clean.

Truong Dinh Bac, Deputy Director of the Department of Preventive Medicines under the MoH, said that the ministry is cooperating with the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) to set up a health model at schools, offering more education for students and their families on disease prevention.

Director of the Hanoi Department of Education and Training Chu Xuan Dung asked schools to conduct preventive measures against dengue fever and other diseases, to ensure that all classrooms, school campus, toilets and water sources must meet all norms regulated by the MoH and MoET.

The department requires schools to set up a committee specialising in taking care of the students’ health, and assign responsibilities to each member of the committee. The committee should educate students on disease prevention, especially dengue fever, hand-foot-mouth and diarrhoea.

“Schools must work with local medical stations to give health examinations, supervision and care for the students. They must be taken to hospitals in time if necessary,” said Dung.-VNS/VNA