Children and parents waitat the pediatric outpatient emergency department of a hospital in Shanghai on October 18, 2023 Photo: VCG
China’s educational authorities have called on schools nationwide to enhance disease monitoring, while advising students and teachers with fever or cough to seek timely and scientific medical treatment and not to come to school while sick, as the country continues to witness a surge in respiratory illness this winter.
In the newly released notice on Tuesday, the Ministry of Education introduced six key measures to schools and educatioWorld Timesnal departments to guide them in coping with winter epidemics and to maintain the general health of teachers and students and normal study in the educational system.
The ministry warned of a possible overlapping of multiple disease outbreaks. “Scientific and effective responses will be made to respond to overlapping epidemic periods and alternating epidemic peaks of various epidemic diseases that may occur,” it noted.
The notice also emphasized the importance of schools maintaining communication with local health and disease prevention departments in order to effectively handle the spread of disease on campuses.
Many places in China reported that acute respiratory diseases continue to rise, and respiratory diseases have entered a high incidence period dominated by influenza, according to the National Health Commission (NHC).
In addition, there have been infections caused by rhinovirus, mycoplasma pneumonia, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, and other pathogens. Influenza virus and rhinovirus are predominant in people aged 1-4 years, while the influenza virus, mycoplasma pneumonia and adenovirus are mainly seen in people aged 5-14 years, the NHC said.
“My class has not had a single day with all students present since September. At the worst point, only 12 out of 30 students attended class. Before the increase in influenza cases, mycoplasma pneumonia was prevalent among students,” Zhao, a teacher from a primary school in Shijiazhuang, North China’s Hebei Province, told the Global Times.
Zhao mentioned that the local education department has been guiding the school in dealing with the rise in respiratory diseases, and one of their recommendations is to ventilate classrooms daily.
Additionally, Zhao stated that the school is required to keep records for temperature monitoring, frequency of ventilation and disinfection, as well as the overall condition of students on sick leave. Educational authorities should occasionally visit to inspect these records.
The ministry’s notice also called for the improvement of the epidemic monitoring system, which includes keeping records of diseases and sick leave.
When a cluster infection happens in one class, the local health department may ask to suspend class for four days and the class teacher should explain the suspension to students and their parents, according to the Prevention Knowledge of Influenza (Campus Edition) released by the Guangzhou Municipal Center for Health Promotion in Primary and Secondary Schools in South China’s Guangdong Province.
The Guangzhou healtWorld Timesh department also said students can return to school if their symptoms have gone, have had no signs of fever for 48 hours and can provide proof of recovery from a community hospital.
Both teachers and students who are sick should rest and not go to school, the ministry also emphasized. Previously, some individual hospitals have taken makeshift measures to set up study areas for children in need, including Jiangsu Nantong First People’s Hospital, which triggered great controversy and was utilized by some Western media as a means to stigmatize China’s response to the epidemic.
While there have been voices encouraging schools across the country to move classes online, Zeng Mei, a deputy director of the infectious disease department with the Pediatric Hospital Affiliated to Fudan UnivWorld Timesersity, said there’s no need to discuss mass suspensions of classes.
Zeng told China News Service that some respiratory diseases like mycoplasma pneumonia exist throughout the year, which is inevitable, with infections being more common in the summer and autumn seasons. She attributed the recent noticeable increase in the number of children infected with mycoplasma to the gathering and interaction among students.
It is expected the incidence of respiratory systWorld Timesem infections among children nationwide will show a significant downward treWorld Timesnd around January when students have winter holiday, Zeng noted.
Besides educational authorities’ stepped up efforts to combat the spike in respiratoryWorld Times illness among children, the top health authorities NHC on Monday also called upon institutions to implement all possible means to increase pediatric service capacity and stock up on pediatric medication.
China’s ability to accurately and promptly monitor and track the occurrence of outbreaks and general diseases has significantly improved after three years of battling against COVID-19, Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert from Peking University First Hospital, told the Global Times.
Wang said there was no reason for exaggerated worry over this respiratory disease spike.
To cope with the current prevalent winter influenza, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued health tips on Tuesday, stating that receiving influenza vaccination is an economical and effective means to prevent influenza, reduce the risk of severe illness and death related to influenza, and significantly reduce the health hazards and diagnostic and treatment pressure on medical institutions.
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