Noticeably, there have been babies under 6 months old contracting the disease, health authorities reported.
Among these patients, 27 have died, said Nguyen Van Binh, head of the Preventive Health Department, at yesterday’s online conference with a number of local authorities and hospitals on combating HFMD.
The ten provinces and cities that are leading the country in HFMD infection are Hai Phong, Bac Can, Yen Bai, Da Nang, Lao Cai, Hoa Binh, Vinh Phuc, Quang Tri, Binh Dinh and Dong Thap.
Of these localities, northern Hai Phong City, where more than 4,000 children have contracted the disease, is leading the country in the number of patients.
In the central city of Da Nang, the number of patients has so far increased by 22.27 times year on year.
Hai Phong Pediatrics Hospital reported to the conference that it has treated some babies of less than 6 months old, the age that was not recorded among the patients last year.
This may be a sign indicating that the lowest age vulnerable to HFMD is now lower, since all the children contracting the disease last year were at least in the preschool age level (3 & 4 years of age), the department said.
Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long warned that the number of patients has steadily increased since January and reached its peak in April before tapering off this month.
However, the death toll in May has been reduced by 3 from April, Long said.
The group of seriously-ill patients (at levels 3 or 4 of the disease) in the first 5 months of this year have been reduced to 8.5 percent from 41.6 percent a year earlier, as a result of applying a new treatment process provided by the Health Ministry.
HFMD is a common viral illness among infants and children that causes a fever and blister-like eruptions around the mouth and/or a skin rash.
In Vietnam the most common strain is Enterovirus 71 (EV-71), which causes sores on the mouth and blisters on the hands and feet of patients.
More actions needed
With forecasts that the disease will continue to develop during the summer, the ministry has called for more actions to combat the disease. One of these actions is to boost the providing of knowledge about the disease and how to avoid it to the general public.
In a number of provinces and cities, necessary information related to the disease has yet to be provided to the right people, who are children caretakers and families with children under five years old, Binh said.
Propaganda about the disease should be boosted among factory workers who have little time to read newspapers or watch TV, said Ngo Thi Kim Yen, deputy director of Da Nang Health Department.
Campaigns that call for regularly washing hands as a measure to avoid contracting HFMD must also be strengthened and expanded, the conference agreed.
According to the Preventive Health Department, 8 provinces and cities have yet to launch their own campaign on boosting hygienic practices to fight the disease, while a national campaign was already kicked off in March.
The department said it would provide antiseptic, soap and other necessary supplies to every household in areas severely affected by the disease.