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Stay off work and school and wear face masks – advice issued amid high levels of flu, Covid and scarlet fever

As pupils and students return to school following the Christmas break, UKHSA is reminding people that winter illnesses continue to circulate at high levels.

Following simple steps can help protect children, minimise the spread of illness in education and childcare settings and protect wider communities.

Flu and coronavirus (COVID-19) are currently circulating at high levels and are likely to continue to increase in the coming weeks. High numbers of scarlet fever, which is caused by group A streptococcus, also continue to be reported.

Professor Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said:

“It’s important to minimise the spread of infection in schools and other education and childcare settings as much as possible. 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 practice regular handwashing at home with soap and warm water. Catching coughs and sneezes in tissues and 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 or visit vulnerable people unless urgent.

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

“We have seen 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.”

Eligible children include:

  • those aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2022
  • all primary school-aged children
  • some secondary school-aged children

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