Health advice issued for children’s return to school amid high levels of covid, scarlet fever and flu

At least 30 children have died from invasive Strep A, officials have confirmed (PA) (PA Archive)
At least 30 children have died from invasive Strep A, officials have confirmed (PA) (PA Archive)

Parents are being advised to take “simple” steps to keep their children safe as they return to school with flu, coronavirus and scarlet fever circulating.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said “high numbers” of scarlet fever cases were being reported while cases of flu and coronavirus were “at high levels”.

Its chief medical adviser Professor Susan Hopkins said: “It’s important to minimise the spread of infection in schools and other education and childcare settings as much as possible.

“If your child is unwell and has a fever, they should stay home from school or nursery until they feel better and the fever has resolved.

“Helping children to learn about the importance of good hand hygiene is also key, so practice regular handwashing at home with soap and warm water. Catching coughs and sneezes in tissues then binning them is another simple way to help stop illness from spreading.

“Adults should also try to stay home when unwell and if you do have to go out, wear a face covering. When unwell don’t visit healthcare settings or visit vulnerable people unless urgent.”

She also reminded parents the flu vaccination is available for all primary school children, those aged 2 and 3 on August 31 last year and for some secondary school pupils.

A flu information poster on the wall of a London hospital (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)
A flu information poster on the wall of a London hospital (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)

The UKHSA said vaccine uptake remained low among young children.

Figures released in December by the agency showed at least 30 children have now died in the UK from invasive Strep A disease.

Some 25 under-18s have died in England from the infection so far this season, dating between September 19 and December 25.

A severe flu outbreak and rising Covid cases are said to be among the reasons adding pressure to the NHS and overwhelming hospitals with patients.

On New Year’s Day, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Dr Adrian Boyle said between 300 and 500 people are dying each week because of delays to emergency care.

Dr Adrian Boyle said the severe flu outbreak, made worse by a lack of immunity in people because of Covid isolation measures, has meant that bed occupancy is at a record level.