Coronavirus: Advice to schools

By Dr. Das Pillay Time of article published Mar 12, 2020

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LIFESTYLE - Specialist pediatrician, Dr. Das. Pillay, offers advice on how schools could proactively tackle Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Educating oneself and the school community on Covid-19 will help to alleviate fears and prompt preventive measures.

Currently there is no specific antiviral treatment available and antibiotics are of no effect.

Treatment is symptom based.

In view of the confirmed cases of Covid-19 in South Africa, it is vital that protection and preventive measures are implemented.

*First and foremost do not panic, stay calm.

*Simple hygiene methods are vital in preventing the spread of the virus: wash hands frequently with warm water and soap. To parents and school-going children it is essential that handwashing and hand sanitation is part of your everyday routine. Avoid close contact with persons with coughs, sneezing, fever and chest infections. Always wash or clean your hands after direct contact with ill people. Avoid touching your face and mouth with your hands. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.

*Schools should have hand sanitiser stations around the entry and exit points as well as in classrooms, libraries, school halls etc for parents/teachers/visitors and children.

*Schools should also host special assemblies to talk to children about Covid-19.

*Pupils should use various platforms to responsibly share preventive information from authorities (like the World health Organisation and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases) with their school communities. Implementing periods in school where pupils can be encouraged to line up for “hand sanitiser time” and teachers can spray all surfaces is unnecessary.

*There is a lot of fake news out there and incorrect information circulating on social media. It is imperative that parents and teachers equip themselves with knowledge as knowledge is power and they can enlighten the children and the public.

My message to readers is to wash their hands, avoid hand contact, stay away from public places and minimise encounters with crowds at stadiums, concerts etc until there is clarity that Covid-19 is under control.

*Pillay is a Durban-based specialist pediatrician.

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