x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Nurses on alert for swine flu

Hundreds of school nurses have been trained to identify students with swine flu symptoms as part of an "action plan" developed by the health authority.

Hundreds of school nurses have been trained to identify students with swine flu symptoms as part of an "action plan" advising parents and teachers how to deal with the epidemic. The Health Authority Abu Dhabi (Haad) announced today it had created the plan in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec). "Following extensive consultation with Adec, we have developed a comprehensive management plan to deal with the H1N1 threat. The protocols give a step-by-step description of all actions to be taken by school management, teachers, pupils, school nurses and parents," said Zaid al Siksek, the chief executive officer of Haad. Mr al Siksek described the likelihood of closing schools as a "very unlikely and distant scenario". However, if the authority and education council deem closures to be necessary, they have created a plan that will include remote teaching. Some schools elsewhere in the country have already delayed opening for the school year because of swine flu fears. The Al Salam Private School and Nursery told parents last week that it would open two days late. Meanwhile a school in Sharjah closed for one week. Two schools in Abu Dhabi, however, have remained open despite having two confirmed cases of the illness. The authority said more than 300 school nurses have been trained on what to do if a student has swine-flu-like symptoms, he said. In addition, training sessions are being held for two representatives from each school in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. The authority did not release the full plan yesterday, but a statement from Mr al Siksek said: "If a child is not feeling well and is presenting with symptoms of an influenza-like illness, school nurses, teachers and school staff are being trained with clear guidelines and protocols to identify potential cases and for the rapid referral of the child for appropriate medical treatment." The protocols will minimise the risk of the illness spreading, he added. Arabic and English fact sheets about the disease will also be distributed. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 250,000 people have been infected with swine flu world wide. Almost 3,000 have died from the disease. jgersen@thenational.ae