The risk of getting infected with swine flu virus is higher in children as compared to adults. Children also tend to shed the virus in greater amounts and for a longer period as. Hence the risk of spread of infection is higher in schools. In view of this, swine flu prevention in schools becomes important.
- Maintaining good hygiene, prompt separation and exclusion of students, staff and visitors are considered the best ways to reduce the spread of the virus. While deciding on separation and exclusion of students and staff clinical, diagnosis of flu based on symptoms (such as cough and/or cold, fever) is adequate. The diagnosis need not be ‘confirmed’ by laboratory testing.
- Children and staff with flu-like symptoms should be advised not attend school and other extra-curricular activities in school until the symptoms have resolved.
- If a child develops flu like symptoms in school, s/he should be isolated under supervision and the parent/guardian should be called to pick them up at the earliest opportunity.
- The person supervising the child should encourage good respiratory hygiene from the child, and take particular care of his/her own hygiene.
Measures to maintain good hygiene for Swine flu prevention in schools include:
- Encourage all children and staff to wash hands regularly with soap and water (especially after coughing or sneezing). This is one of the best ways to prevent many common infections. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel to clean hands.
- All hard surfaces in schools such as door handles, remote controls, hand rails, and computer keyboards should be cleaned regularly to remove germs.
- Encourage children and staff to use tissues to cover mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing. The used tissue should be disposed in trash as soon as possible. If there is no tissue they should sneeze in elbow sleeves.
Ensure that all children follow guidelines regarding hygiene. Widespread distribution of antiviral medicines in school (to pupils and staff) for prevention of swine flu routinely is not recommended as the virus is widespread within the community (and the person is at risk of swine flu after the course of antiviral medicine is over). School closure is also not recommended as the children and staffs are likely to be exposed to the virus in their everyday lives as well.
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