Flu cases on the rise in UAE: Doctors advise parents to get kids vaccinated as schools reopen

Reduced physical activity during spring break could be another reason why a number of children fell sick upon returning to classrooms, expert says

by

Ashwani Kumar

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Supplied photo
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Published: Fri 14 Apr 2023, 8:20 PM

Last updated: Fri 14 Apr 2023, 10:24 PM

With students now back in classrooms after spring break, a number of doctors in the UAE are seeing more youngsters with symptoms of flu, including runny nose, fever, or sore throat.

Though there had been an increase in cases of influenza over the past few days, health experts said these are mild and not significantly high to cause worry. To keep children protected, they added that it is best to get children vaccinated against flu.


“What we see is that, mostly, children who haven’t taken a flu shot are falling ill. I recommend that parents must check for any missed or pending vaccination shots of their children, and also give an annual flu shot," said Dr Amrit Lal Soni, paediatrician at Ahalia Hospital, Abu Dhabi City.

Dr Jamuna Raghuraman, paediatrician at Medeor Hospital, Dubai, said the likely cause of fever cases after school reopening was the sudden interaction and gathering of students.


"But we must wait and watch to see how the routine change has affected children. The ending of Ramadan and related changes may also cause fluctuations in the trends. Presently, the number of infected cases is not huge. The ones who are coming have streptococcal throat infections, high fever and body rash. We are seeing influenza and adenovirus. These can be the causes of high-grade fever.”

Dr Soni noted that reduced physical activity could be another reason that could explain why a number of children fell sick upon returning to classrooms.

“During their school break, it’s likely that they were indoors and led a sedentary lifestyle, which in turn weakened their immune systems. Sudden exposure to viruses and bacteria from their school and classmates have resulted in children falling sick. However, it is not serious and will subside in a few days after taking medicines and rest. After getting sick, they will also develop antibodies.”

Take precautions

Doctors stressed on children maintaining good hand hygiene.

“They must also wash their hands after having food while in school or outside. They must drink only filtered or boiled water. Wearing a mask is highly recommended whenever they can, be in their classes or buses. Also, generous use of hand sanitisers whenever they feel to have come in contact with high-touch points or inside buses,” Dr Soni underlined.

Dr Jamuna said that children must stay hydrated and follow a healthy diet to remain fit.

“It is better to avoid going to school whenever a child is sick and has throat pain or conjunctivitis. For high-grade fever or any other symptoms, visit a paediatrician immediately. If children are going for swimming classes, they must properly wash their bodies before and after using the pool. They should care for their eyes, mouth, and nose after contact with the water,” Dr Jamuna added.

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