UK health officials issue back-to-school warning amid rising Strep A and flu cases

Health agency outlines simple steps to minimise spread of illness in education settings and wider community

Parents walk their children to school in Hornchurch, Essex. PA
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As cases of flu, Covid-19 and Group A Streptococcal (iGas) disease continue to rise, the UK Health Security Agency has issued back-to-school advice for parents.

The health agency has outlined simple steps that can minimise the spread of illness in education and childcare settings as well as in the wider community.

The warning comes as figures released last week show that at least 30 children have died in the UK from conditions related to iGas, which can cause scarlet fever.

Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UKHSA, said that children should stay home from school if they are unwell and have a fever.

“It’s important to minimise the spread of infection in schools and other education and childcare settings as much as possible,” she said.

“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.

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“Helping children to learn about the importance of good hand hygiene is also key, so practise 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 unless urgent, or visit vulnerable people.”

Dr Hopkins also said young children should receive flu vaccination.

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“Remember that flu vaccination is still available for all eligible groups and is the best protection against the virus,” she said.

“We have seen a good uptake in older age groups but vaccination among young children remains low. Flu can be very unpleasant and in some cases can lead to more serious illness.

“Getting your child vaccinated protects them and others they come into contact with, and it’s still not too late.”

Updated: January 02, 2023, 10:20 PM