As schools reopen, how can parents and children curb Strep A and flu?

Many children will return to school on Tuesday, following the Christmas break. Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Back to school advice has been issued by the government to help deal with high levels of flu, Covid-19 and invasive Strep A disease (iGas).

Many pupils will return to school on Tuesday, following the Christmas break.

Professor Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said it is "important" to minimise the spread of infection in schools and other education and childcare settings, and guidance from the UKHSA includes simple steps for doing so.

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

Meanwhile, the number of patients in hospital with flu in England has “skyrocketed”, according to new data, sparking warnings that this season could be more severe than in pre-pandemic years.

Similarly, the number of people in hospital in England with Covid-19 was 8,643 on December 21 - the highest level in almost two months.

A high temperature can be one of the symptoms of a Strep A infection. Credit: PA

What can adults and children do to curb the spread of Strep A, Covid and flu?

  • 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.

  • Children should be helped to learn about the importance of good hand hygiene.

  • Families should practice regular handwashing at home with soap and warm water.

  • Families should catch coughs and sneezes in tissues then bin them.

  • Adults should try to stay home when unwell, but if you do have to go out, wear a face covering.

  • When unwell, don’t visit healthcare settings unless urgent, or visit vulnerable people.

  • Young children should get a flu vaccination, described by the UKHSA as "the best protection against the virus".

What are the symptoms of invasive Strep A?

  • Fever (above 38°C)

  • Severe muscle aches

  • Localised muscle tenderness

  • Redness at the site of a wound

If your child is showing any symptoms of invasive Strep A, you should contact your GP immediately.

Additionally if your child has a fever, nausea or vomiting, or a fine sandpaper-like pink-red rash, this could be a symptom of scarlet fever - another complication of Strep A infection - and you should also contact your GP.

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