Volume 99, Issue 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Singapore implements a school closure policy for institutional hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) outbreaks, but there is a lack of empirical evidence on the effect of closure on HFMD transmission. We conducted a retrospective analysis of 197,207 cases of HFMD over the period 2003–2012 at the national level and of 57,502 cases in 10,080 institutional outbreaks over the period 2011–2016 in Singapore. The effects of school closure due to 1) institutional outbreaks, 2) public holidays, and 3) school vacations were assessed using a Bayesian time series modeling approach. School closure was associated with a reduction in HFMD transmission rate. During public holidays, average numbers of secondary cases having onset the week after dropped by 53% (95% credible interval 44–62%), and during school vacations, the number of secondary cases dropped by 7% (95% credible interval 3–10%). Schools being temporarily closed in response to an institutional outbreak reduced the average number of new cases by 1,204 (95% credible interval 1,140–1,297). Despite the positive effect in reducing transmission, the effect of school closure is relatively small and may not justify the routine use of this measure.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 02 Feb 2018
  • Accepted : 31 Aug 2018
  • Published online : 22 Oct 2018

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