Flu season in the UAE: Respiratory viruses are a bigger threat to children than covid, doctors warn – News

Flu season in the UAE: Respiratory viruses are a bigger threat to children than covid, doctors warn – News

Doctors urge parents to watch for early signs of illness, such as a cold, cough or sore throat, to make sure their children get timely medical care.

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Published: Wed 26 Oct 2022 16:58

It seems more schoolchildren are getting sick these days, as doctors warn residents that a “tripledemia” – which includes the flu, the common respiratory virus (RSV) and the coronavirus – is on the rise.

While most Covid-related restrictions have now been lifted, doctors say coronavirus isn’t the only virus posing a threat to children; they also see the rise in influenza and viruses like RSV as a danger.

Dr Supriya G Menen, Specialist Pediatrician at Aster Clinic, Discovery Garden, says: “With the start of flu season, more children have become ill, particularly with more upper respiratory tract infections such as influenza. With the onslaught of climate change from summer to winter, there are more outbreaks in children with allergic rhinitis and HRAD (hyper-reactive airway disease). There are definitely more cases of flu and/or RSV than Covid-19.”

Doctors warn parents to watch for any early signs of illness, such as a cold or cough, sore throat, and hoarseness, and to make sure the child gets the medical care he or she needs early enough to prevent it from getting worse.

Like schools warning parents not to send their sick children to school, health professionals are also stressing the same thing.

“Make sure parents don’t send their kids to school when they’re not feeling well. This is likely to exacerbate your child’s condition and also result in more children becoming ill. Make sure your child gets the flu shot on time, as this will help boost her immunity and reduce hospital visits,” adds Menen.

Dr. Jamuna Raghuraman, Specialist Pediatrician at Dubai Medeor Hospital, says: “Children are more vulnerable, especially as respiratory illnesses are more common in the colder months. All three, influenza, covid-19 and RSV, are respiratory viruses with very similar modes of transmission. Respiratory illnesses are likely to increase during the winter, as dry and cold conditions can weaken children’s resistance and increase the spread of the virus. We are seeing more cases of influenza and RSV among children in the United Arab Emirates. Colds spread quickly among children as they are more likely to touch their eyes, mouth and nose without washing their hands.

She adds: “Parents should not panic. Since most are mild to moderate cases, they are treatable. Make sure children maintain respiratory hygiene. Provide healthy, balanced nutrition and ensure they receive adequate hydration. Give vitamin supplements to children with deficiencies. Seek medical help when your child is sick.”

While doctors appreciate the revival of normalcy and the lifting of sidewalks after the pandemic, they also point out that maskless interactions in schools are causing an increase in cases of different types of viruses.

Dr Puneet Wadhwa, Specialist Pediatrician at Prime Hospital, says: “Many children get sick due to interactions without a mask at school. The number of flu or influenza cases is higher this year than before the pandemic. We also see some cases of Covid-19. This is mainly due to the increase in interactions, revenge trips, holidays at home, the festive season, and the removal of the mask mandate, because it is no longer a mandatory requirement.

This happens every year, but for the last 2-3 years it hasn’t, because most people would wear the mask. Masks also act as protection against other viruses.”


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