Children returning to school susceptible to contagious diseases, UAE doctors warn

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Children returning to school are susceptible to catching many contagious diseases and infections such as lice, stomach bugs and tonsillitis, UAE doctors have warned.

“The school reopening brings increased cases of fevers, coughs and colds,” said Dr. Dinesh Naik, pediatrician at al-Sharq hospital in Fujairah.

“As children come in contact with each other, everyone’s germs are shared,” he added. “These ‘germs’ are mostly viruses and can linger on classroom desks, tables or doorknobs exposing fellow students to it increasing risk of infections.”

Naik and Dr. Sadeem Bashiti, Children’s consultant at Health Bay Dubai polyclinic, said that the most common classroom illnesses also include gastroenteritis – a stomach infection – eye inflammation and hand, foot and mouth disease, a virus causing ulcers in the month and rashes on the palms and feet.

Sadeem advised parents to get children vaccinated for things such as the flu and now COVID-19, as well as teaching children about handwashing and hygiene, to help limit the spread of illness when children return to school.

The UAE on Tuesday updated its COVID-19 safety measures for the 2022-2023 academic year which will see more than one million students and 65,000 educational staff return to institutions.

On the first day of school, students aged 12 and above as well as teachers, and other school staff must present a negative PCR test conducted within 96 hours, the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) said.

All students, including those who are not vaccinated for medical reasons or who have medical exemptions, will be allowed to attend classes, while social distancing has been canceled inside educational institutions and buses.

Temperature checks for students and employees have also been canceled, NCEMA announced, adding that anyone who registers a high temperature must stay home on sick leave and submit a negative PCR test upon returning.

However, facemasks will remain mandatory inside closed spaces.

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