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Today with Claire Byrne on RTG Radio One, so as of today, our schools are almost back to capacity. Most children are back in the classroom after six months out. Now, last week, we had a huge reaction to and lots of questions for Dr. Yvonne Williams. So she's back on the line to answer your Colvard questions about going back to school. If you've any questions for Yvonne, get in touch. The tax number five one five one. The email address is today, SCB at RTG.
Good morning to you, Yvonne.
Hi. Good morning, Carol. So, as I said, we had so many questions coming in for you last week when you were on that we really wanted to get you back and see if we could get through some more of them. And they've been coming in to us thick and fast this morning. But before we get to them, there's lots more in the papers today about what parents and schools should do if a child is being tested for covid or confirmed for covid.
So let's start there.
What does a family need to do if a child is getting a test for covid waiting for that test?
So if you have a child from age three months to 13 years, like we were talking about last week, that your primary school and perhaps children, if they're waiting on a test, they have to stay home and self isolate until they get their test results, if that's OK. And if your toddler or your child is going for tests, the whole household has to restrict their movements until you get those results back. That means brothers and sisters or grandparents living with you and the parents in the house.
They all have to restrict their movements. So that means not going not going to work, not taking public transport. And so the whole house, in essence, is affected when that when that comes into play.
OK, and Dr. Semitone was at the FAA briefing last night and she said it's OK to send your child to school with a runny nose. And we know that, but also with a congested nose. That's OK as long as there aren't any other symptoms.
Yes. So what we were talking about last week is that if you have a child that seems to have symptoms of a very mild head called sneezing and they have a runny nose, that those children are OK as long as they have no temperature and they haven't needed Calpol or Nurofen, if it's changing and it's more like a sinus infection where they have you know, there was a lot of discharge and perhaps they're more unwell, they might have a bit of a headache with it.
And then we're asking people to keep those children at home for 48 hours and observe them and see to that progress. And authorities will be able to tell you if they can smell perhaps properly anymore, if their food starts to taste funny, which which can happen with a sinus infection and with cold.
And that was mentioned as well, not to dose them with Calpol. You just mentioned that there is that because that could mask a high temperature.
Yeah, that's the main reason. So if you've given somebody Calpol or paracetamol or Panadol, you're not going to know if they have a temperature while that's working perhaps for four or six hours. And with ibuprofen, it's even longer. It's six to eight hours. So you could inadvertently send your child into school, someone who perhaps has a temperature and even given them the Calpol, you know, for for mild head, cold symptom. So that's the main reason behind us.
And also, if the child is that unwell, they're probably better off, you know, to be at home and just to be observed by a parent or guardian.
OK, so if you need Calpol to stay at home, that's that's the advice for obviously for a sprained ankle or something unconnected to infection. Yeah. Don't let them suffer automatically. So the question here from Tresh that feeds into this whole area, she has three daughters, two in primary, one in secondary school. And her question is, if one is suspected of covid, does she need to take them all out of school and isolate everybody?
She needs to take them all out of school, isolate the child who is suspected, of course, with that child, goes into the room on her own or his own with the window open and takes those precautions. You know, you'd be dropping meals then if the mom is going into the room to look after her, we'd ask mom to wear a face mask and be very careful with her hand hygiene. The other two daughters need to stay at home, but in essence, they have the run of the house.
So they need to restrict their movements, not have visitors coming up and going out to see their friends. They can exercise if they keep their teenagers outside. They keep well away from people, but they're not going into school. They're not going on public transport. They're not having people over and they're not going visiting anybody.
And I think the answer to the next one is going to be fairly obvious, given what happens if one or more people in the family test positive. Does the whole family have to self isolate for 14 days or more?
Yes. Yeah. And if hopefully a child has a mild form of the disease, how does she know? Trish says again when they're safe to return to school.
So it's going to be someone test positive if they're going to be out for 14 days at least, and they have to be fever free. So no temperature for the last five days before they go back to school and no symptoms for two days before they go back to school. So that would apply to most children will have a very much a milder illness. If you had an older child, perhaps, and it was dragging on a bit longer, they could be out of school for it for longer than the two weeks.
OK, we read about the flu vaccine today as well. The Irish Times says that 600000 children between the age of two and 12 will get the vaccine free of charge, but the vaccination program won't start until mid to late October. Is that the timeline that you've been given?
Yes, if what we were told a couple of weeks ago by public health is that actually there's up to 800000 children between the age of two and 12 are going to be able to get this free flu vaccine that's going to be a nasal vaccine. You're talking about a nose drop or a spray into each nostril for young children. That's much more comfortable, obviously, than than having a needle. We don't have details on when it's going to happen yet. We know the adult flu vaccine has been delayed by a couple of weeks, unfortunately, this year.
So I think the plan is that GPS are going to have the adults vaccinated first and then move on to vaccinating the children. I suppose the one concern we would have as GPS and we obviously want to help get everybody vaccinated for flu this winter is the logistics of how the U.S. will set it up. It would be great if they use something like the hopes that we had during Kofod so that it could run in the evenings and weekends and perhaps nurses and doctors could volunteer to come in there.
We know from the UK that when you have, I suppose, a regime where the children are vaccinated in school, the uptake is better than if you're waiting on individual parents to book appointments in the GP surgery. We haven't, I suppose, in general practice and like the hospitals, we haven't closed down any clinics. We haven't stopped doing baby checks. You know, GDP is running pretty much as close to normal as a kind at the moment. So it's very hard to see capacity for us to run the normal type flu clinics that we would run because the child has to be observed for 15 minutes after a vaccine, particularly the first year they're getting it to make sure they don't have an allergic reaction.
A lot of people don't have a car to sit in the surgery or even parking facilities near the surgeries in the city centre where they can go and which that means having a room in a GP surgery that you can leave a child in for 15 minutes. And that's very difficult to do when you're talking about such large numbers.
And is there any suggestion that a whole type system might be set up? I don't know what they're negotiating at the moment with the IMO, but it would I think it was something like that would run much more efficiently and for parents not to have to take time off work as well. If you could bring your child in the evening, perhaps book an appointment online, come on a Saturday or Sunday or have something set up perhaps in the school using the school halls like they did for the public health doctors, I think that would probably streamline the service.
It needs to it needs to be very efficient because we don't get a large uptake of children taking up the flu vaccine. It's not going to work. You know, we need a reading, but I think for it to make a difference.
All right. Let's get through some of these questions then, Yvonne, some more of these questions. I've seen some people wearing work uniforms out and about. Is that OK or should the person separate work daily life clothes?
I think if you're working in a health care setting, you definitely don't want to be seeing people walking around in their scrubs. I think outside of health care, it wouldn't be that different to the normal way that we would be working. So people leave work in a uniform normally, and they're working in perhaps an officer, you know, in the factory. And if there aren't any cases there, I don't think that would be a problem.
OK, different. We know we have different rules in different schools. And here's one of them. Guidelines for school state that hands should be dried with single use towels or hand dryers. But our school says this listener has asked children to bring in their own fabric tail to dry their hands, store it in a bag under their desk, bring it home each evening. What do you think of this, Yvonne says this listener.
I think the one thing you don't want is that children share shirttails. So the days of having a single child in the bathroom are gone. I suppose how each individual school manages us in terms of whether they have the supplies of individual paper towels or hand dryers or individual towels might be down to the school's resources in terms of their funding and their ability to to provide those items for them. A single child is quite safe. And if that's something I suppose the school feels they need to do because we can't provide the paper towels, then it is one option.
Paper towels would see more and more convenient.
This listener is a secondary teacher in the high risk category, and they're worried about how they can safely assess and track my students progress in class. So they're wondering, is it safe to walk around the class and look into the student's copy books? Is it safe for them to collect up work to correct?
Yeah, I think if you're taking the precautions we've advised for this person, if they're in a high risk group, they've obviously been passed by occupational hazards, that they're safe to work in the classroom if they wear their mask when they're going within two metres of the student. So if you're going around and looking in over someone's shoulder to see you, have your mask on and have your visor perhaps outside the mask, if you want to take that extra extra precaution and then just be very careful with your hand hygiene when you're correcting work.
We know that the virus doesn't live too long on cell surfaces and up to three days and hard surfaces. That one option might be to collect work, perhaps on a on a Tuesday, and that you collect make that work that's corrected on a Friday evening. So you've left those couple of days passed and that would reduce the risk to almost zero then in terms of handling copy books and things like that.
OK, back to coughing and sneezing. Joanne has a five year old who had a viral cough last winter that lasted for a month. And she's worried if it happens again, the child might be excluded from school. And her question is, if he's tested and found to be negative for Colvard but still has a cough, when will he be allowed to return to school?
So we would have children who would test or people who would test negative for cold weather. We might be very suspicious. They have covered and sometimes even arrange a second test or go ahead and isolate them for the 14 days. But if the child is well and they've tested negative for covered the cost of ongoing, they will have come in probably and been seen by their doctor. And that's what I would advise happen in a case like this. And generally, that doctor would probably be quite happy to write an old saying they've tested negative for cover to their real child and they just have this post cough.
Those so far and cough can sometimes go on six or eight weeks. Sometimes it might be a fresh presentation of asthma as well. So I think the test is negative. Then it's going to bring your son or daughter in to see your family doctor and they'll be able to assist you from there. Okay.
I know we spoke about clothes earlier on, but this is one that I have heard asked quite a few in my own circle. Is it necessary for children to change out of the school uniform to go? The child care provider, the facility that this person uses, says that because they're catering for children from many schools, they can't risk the virus being transferred from uniform to uniform. What do you think of that, that the parents are being asked to provide other clothes for the child care facility?
I suppose it's an extra an extra burden on parents and an extra difficulty in trying to get your child to remember to bring everything back with them is also a problem sometimes with small children. I have sympathy for the child care providers because they're obviously trying to do everything they can to minimize the risk. There's very little evidence of any child catching covid-19 from another child's clothes. We don't have any data to suggest that that is happening at the moment. And as I said, an unsolved material, those clues coming from a child care setting, the risk would be very, very low.
So perhaps it's worth maybe feeding that back to the child care provider and seeing if and if there's an amicable solution that can be reached for everybody.
But like if the child care providers are asking you to do that, it's very hard to push back against it when they're just trying to keep everybody safe. I suppose in their own mind it is.
It is. And it's something maybe just to factor in and just to put something perhaps in the bag, very easy for children to slip on and slip off with no buttons and, you know, you know, just make it easy for them to change.
Here's an interesting one just in from Mary, whose son is a secondary school teacher and living in the family home. Mary has health issues. So her son is wearing a visor at work since yesterday. Prior to that, he was wearing a cloth mask, which you can machine wash daily, obviously, and that's fine. But with the visor, he carefully washed it in warm, soapy water on returning home from work yesterday. And Mary wants to know, is the safe practice, is that enough, in other words?
Yes, I think so.
That is an awfully good wash. And warm fuzzy water. Good hot water should be absolutely fine.
Back to the hand sanitizer. We talked about this last week, Yvonne. Peter has heard conflicting advice about getting primary children their own hand sanitizer to take to school. You haven't changed your view on this since we last spoke.
No, I think what's a lot of the schools are asking is people for children not to bring in their own hand sanitizer. They're providing hand sanitizers in the school. And I think for the child to have their own hand sanitizer in their usual backpack or if they're going to buy it is a good habit for them. But the schools are happy to provide hand sanitizers for the children and they're funded to do that.
OK, now another one on the flu vaccine for children under the age of 11, all healthy. And Aula is the mom she wants to know. Well, she knows the children between two and 12 are getting the vaccine for free. She wants to know, with GP surgeries mostly doing online consultations, how will this be administered? What you'd like to know that, too, I'm sure.
Yeah, well, firstly, we're investing mostly online only anymore. The surgeries are full and busy. There's a certain percentage that we're doing by phone and by video, but there's still a lot of people coming in to see their GP every day, which is good. I would absolutely encourage every parent to get their child vaccinated for the flu this year for two reasons. One, if your child gets the flu, they're going to potentially have symptoms that overlap with it.
And the whole has, as we were talking about earlier, you're gonna have to take your child out of school. They're going to have to isolate at home. Everyone will be able to go to work and so on. So for your own sake, it's worth doing, but also for those other people at high risk. You know, that might be the teacher. It might be a work colleague. It could be granny. So you need to protect everybody else as well as yourself.
Please get the flu vaccine. We will be doing them on site somewhere.
Yvonne, thank you so much for dealing with all of those questions in that short period of time. That's Dr. Yvonne Williams joining us again with all of those answers to your queries. And I'm sure we'll have Yvonne in again. So if you have any further questions, do get in touch with us. For now, though, let's go to the NEWSROOM and Brian Jennings.