Alia pictured with her youngest brother Ayaan. Courtesy Ali family
Alia pictured with her youngest brother Ayaan. Courtesy Ali family

Tributes paid as Dubai pupil, 17, dies after developing flu



Tributes have been paid to a Dubai school pupil who died at the age of 17, two days after contracting flu.

Alia Niyaz Ali, a grade-12 pupil at Indian High School, passed away in hospital on Tuesday.

Ashok Kumar, chief executive at the school, said the exact cause of her death was still to be determined, but was likely to be linked to flu-related complications.

“She died in the hospital, she had attended school until Sunday,” Mr Kumar said.

“We don’t know the exact cause of death. We were informed this morning by her friends. It could be likely related to flu.”

In an statement, the school said pupils and staff paid condolences to the teenager at her funeral.

A prayer meeting is to be organised in memory of Alia at the school.

“Alia had attended school until Sunday and developed a mild flu subsequently. The sad news reached her friends and teachers late night on Tuesday and they rushed to the hospital.

“Her fellow students and teachers will always remember Alia as a bundle of energy, a pleasing personality – compassionate, helpful and highly creative,” the school statement said.

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Read more:

Warning issued over rising threat of flu this winter

The Spanish flu pandemic and its impact on the Middle East

What is the difference between Australian, French and Japanese flu?

Severe flu season leads to hospitalisations across the UAE

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Her death comes two weeks after a nine-year-old pupil at Our Own Indian High School died from an acute viral infection.

Mr Kumar said the school regularly takes precautions in flu-related cases, requesting parents to keep students home or asking a child with flu symptoms in school to approach the medical office.

In the past two weeks, schools in the emirate have sent out alert notices cautioning parents to watch out for flu symptoms in their children.

Dr Fadi Baladi, of Burjeel Day Surgery Centre, has urged people to be "proactive" and get vaccinated before flu strikes.

“I’m seeing a lot of flu cases so far this winter and we have predicted that may happen,” said Dr Baladi.

“If someone gets sick, the virus can spread very quickly within a household and the rest of the family panics. It is hard to understand why people will only get vaccinated once they see a family member get really ill.

“They should be proactive and get vaccinated as a preventative measure. We are giving the same advice as the rest of the global medical community.

“Flu deaths have happened before and they will happen again. People need to be taking these precautions seriously, particularly if they have an existing health problem.

“In most cases, those who have complications with flu usually have some co-morbidity or medical condition that makes the flu fatal. We don’t fully understand the science behind the severity of this year’s flu strain, but we have seen enough cases of bad flu this year to know that we cannot underestimate its potential this winter.

“It is why we have reiterated our message to get vaccinated. Everyone at this school must be worried, as anytime you have a grouping of people they are at higher risk so should definitely be getting a flu shot.”

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