x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

'No need to panic,' doctor says

Parents should not panic about sending their children back to school because of the H1N1 pandemic but should be vigilant in looking for signs and symptoms.

DUBAI // Parents should not panic about sending their children back to school because of the H1N1 pandemic but should be vigilant in looking for signs and symptoms, a health and education expert has advised. Dr Sabina Aidarous, a family doctor and mother of one, said parents should be on the lookout for symptoms but should not assume any flu-like symptom is swine flu. "Of course it may be a worry for some parents after the summer holidays," she said. "But there is no need to panic. I think there is a lot of scaremongering going on; even at the slightest sniffle people panic."

Dr Aidarous, who works at a private clinic in Dubai Healthcare City, said parents should remember that it was in the school's best interest to look after their child. "They will be vigilant. And they should also remember this is a flu. "Those more susceptible to it are the very young and very old and those with chronic diseases." Healthy children who had been to countries with many flu cases would not necessarily be carrying it, she said.

Education and health authorities in Abu Dhabi held a training session yesterday for teachers and other school staff in preparation for the start of school next week. The training, hosted by the Abu Dhabi Education Council in partnership with the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi, covered H1N1 influenza, initial management of a suspected case, how to report cases and basic infection control precautionary measures in schools.

One of the fact sheets used in the session urges parents to teach their children basic hygiene such as washing hands properly, covering mouths when sneezing or coughing and avoiding contact with sick people. It also asks them to be prepared to keep sick children at home. "Have activities for your children to do while at home. Pull together games, books, DVDs and other items to keep your family entertained," it said.

The information pack said students, teachers and staff must be sent home or to a health care clinic if they feel ill. Anyone who is sick should stay at home for seven days, until they have been symptom-free for 24 hours without medication. Training is mandatory for all private schools, and officials estimate more than 1,000 educators and school nurses will take part. Each school must send two staff members. All school nurses at state schools in Abu Dhabi have already undergone training on swine flu.

munderwood@thenational.ae