TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) president Martin Lum Kin has urged teachers to be on the alert for symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) in schools after Education Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly confirmed cases in North and South Trinidad for this term.
Gadsby-Dolly told the media on Monday it was not unusual to have reports of a few cases “from time to time.”
In a media report, the ministry confirmed another case at a school in Carenage. When Newsday contacted Gadsby-Dolly for an update on Tuesday she repeated Monday’s information.
When there are cases in the school system, Gadsby-Dolly said, it is kept under control by isolating the child and sending them home until their symptoms have cleared.
Symptoms of the contagious disease include fever, sore throat, and a distinctive rash on the hands, feet and in the mouth.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh directed questions about it to Gadsby-Dolly.
After a follow-up question about his ministry’s readiness and responsibility in this matter, there was no response from the minister up to 5 pm.
Meanwhile, TTUTA has reached out to its members to track any unreported cases.
So far, Lum Kin said he had received information on cases in schools in the Port of Spain region and Sangre Grande as well.
“We are waiting on our members to give us official reports on the cases.
“Knowing the nature of the disease and how contagious it is, we ask our educators to be vigilant in terms of monitoring students under their charge and any suspicious or suspected cases, that they report to the relevant authority.
Tobago TTUTA officer Bradon Roberts said Tobago’s education stakeholders must be proactive and take measures to contain any possible outbreak.
“We need to decide that we need to be extra cautious. We don’t want to wait until it has spread and then we start to act on it. While we don’t have any cases, we must be on our guard all the time, not that we wait till we have a case and now want to put things together.”
Zorisha Hackett, the Tobago House of Assembly’s Secretary for the Division of Education, Innovation and Research, told Newsday she couldn’t comment.
Secretary of Tobago’s Health, Wellness and Social Protection Division, Faith BYisrael said her division will release a statement on it.