Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) has claimed the lives of nine children among the more than 6,300 reported cases in the first six weeks of this year, the Ministry of Health announced Monday.
The number of HFMD infections this year is up 7.3 percent from the same period last year (there were 869 infections in the first six weeks of 2011).
According to the ministry, the southern region has the highest rates of HFMD, having recorded 3,800 cases of infection and eight fatalities.
Nguyen Tran Hien, director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE), said the figures signaled a difficult year ahead for the health sector as the HFMD epidemic is showing no signs of slowing down.
Last year, the disease infected at least 110,000 people in 63 cities and provinces nationwide. Of that number, 166 died, mostly children under 5 years old.
Tran Thanh Duong, deputy chief of the Vietnam Administration of Preventive Medicine, said the situation surrounding the disease has become more complicated in 2012, as it has appeared so early in the year.
In previous years, HFMD tended to peak during two periods: from April to May and from August to September, he said.