School clamps down after boy athletes catch disease

Local | Jane Cheung 9 Nov 2018

A Tuen Mun primary school has canceled extracurricular activities and suspended classes for Primary Five and Six students after track and field athletes were diagnosed with hand-foot-and-mouth disease, which has left one pupil in critical condition.

A total of nine boys from Po Leung Kuk Fong Wong Kam Chuen Primary School in Tuen Mun showed symptoms of the disease.

One of them - an 11-year-old who has been diagnosed with the enterovirus EV71 - is in critical condition in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Tuen Mun Hospital, while the others are in stable condition.

Sources said most of the infected boys are members of the school's track and field team.

In a notice, the school also said the disease was mainly spread among those in the team.

As a precautionary measure, the school yesterday morning placed hand sanitizer spray at the school entrance for students to use.

The campus broadcast in the morning said track and field training yesterday and the sports day to be held today would be cancelled.

Extra-curricular activities during lunchtime have also been called off. On Wednesday night, the Centre for Health Protection announced the outbreak of hand-foot-and-mouth disease at the primary school.

Nine Primary Five and Six boys have displayed symptoms since October 28.

The center said the boy in critical condition has suffered from a fever, cough and runny nose since October 30.

He was admitted to Tuen Mun Hospital on November 3 and had seizures and weakness in his upper limbs the next day. His rectal swab specimen tested positive for EV71 in laboratories and doctors diagnosed him with the EV71 infection and encephalomyelitis.

The center said the boy had not traveled outside Hong Kong during the incubation period.

However, his father also exhibited symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection, but is now in stable condition.

The other eight boys also visited doctors, but did not need to be admitted to hospital.

The school said Primary Five and Six classes would be suspended until November 21.

The center also sent officers to inspect the school and advised the management on infection control and preventive measures.

A center spokesman said the EV71 virus is one of the causes of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, which is transmitted by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters and the stool of an infected person.

Symptoms of the disease include rashes on the palms, soles, hips and thighs, along with tiny blisters and ulcers in the oral cavity, he said.

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