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COVID Infections Expected to Increase Amongst School-Aged Population

COVID-19 infections amongst the island’s school-aged population are expected to increase, according to Dr. Delphina Vernor, District Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs.

Vernor made the prediction earlier this week, warning students who are unwell not to attend school.

“We expect to see increases in the number of school aged children diagnosed with the virus, given the increase in our daily positivity and infection rates,” Vernor said this week.

She warns that as the sixth wave of the coronavirus intensifies, students should be assessed and tested for COVID-19 if deemed necessary by a health practitioner.

Further, she noted, parents must play their part.

“We have learnt that symptoms of COVID-19 vary. Students may present with typical flu like symptoms such as cough, runny nose (and) fever. Others may have gastroenteritis-like symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea,” Vernor said.

“Some students may complain of headache while others may just be fatigued. If your child complains of feeling unwell, I urge you to do the right thing and get them assessed,” the District Medical Officer said, adding that “if one member of the household is experiencing symptoms and is awaiting results for COVID-19, keep other children home until the results are received.”

According to her, it is also crucial for children to get tested if one member of their household tests positive.

Vernor also stressed on the importance of contact tracing, explaining that it is a process that relies heavily on the “honesty and integrity” of persons involved.

Moreover, she said, the information provided to the Ministry is extremely important, as it helps identify the close contacts of someone who can subsequently be quarantined and tested at the appropriate time.

“If you are informed by a representative from the school or the Ministry of Health that your child has been identified as a contact, please keep them in quarantine and observe for development of symptoms. Take your child in for testing immediately if they develop symptoms or otherwise on the day which was indicated for testing,” Vernor said, adding that this will help to break the chain of transmission and prevent outbreaks at schools.

“On this point, we have noted increased use of home rapid test kits. While it is useful for screening, the Ministry of Health requires confirmation of these tests with a PCR test. In the interim, it is absolutely important to report positive home tests to your child’s school so that the necessary steps can be initiated,” she added.

Vernor also spoke about the pandemic’s effect on the educational sector and students’ future, and stressed that school is absolutely essential.

“As our children have returned to the classrooms let us ensure that we work to not only maintain a safe learning environment within the schools, but in general, so that schools can continue to run,” she said.

Vernor also asked parents to consider vaccination for children who are old enough to get vaccinated.

Saint Lucia’s fight against the COVID-19 virus continues to be a tough one. Prior to press time yesterday, the island had recorded 23, 978 cases, raking in over 200 this week alone.

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