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MoH ‘urged’ to provide face masks to students, teachers


Ministry of Education (MoE) Undersecretary Tomadher Al-Sedarawi has asked the Ministry of Health (MoH) to distribute face masks to students and teachers at the start of the new academic year to prevent further spread of swine flu, reports Al-Anba daily. Indicating she expects MoH to equip 120 school clinics - 20 in each educational zone - with the necessary tools to combat swine flu, Al-Sedarawi asked the ministry to provide the required equipment and certain number of nurses by companies contracted to render such services. She also confirmed plans to use theaters and sports halls in schools located near the hospitals and clinics as shelters for infected persons, in coordination with MoH and Voluntary Work Center, which is currently headed by Sheikha Amthal Al-Ahmad. She said MoE has asked the Union of Private Schools to appoint a communications officer, who will coordinate with the team tasked to control swine flu in case of an outbreak in schools.Al-Sedarawi disclosed MoE has also reached an agreement with the Cooperative Societies Union to provide cleaning items to schools, as part of its plan to launch a cleanliness campaign at the beginning of the new school year. She said the ministry will ensure that the schools are cleaned frequently, especially the tables to prevent any contamination. Affirming an emergency hotline will be provided for schools to immediately report swine flu cases to the health centers, Al-Sedarawi ruled out the possibility of postponing the opening of the new academic year as the ministry is keen on taking the necessary precautionary measures, along with its health counterpart, to protect the health of students, teachers and administrative staff. Revealing the ministry has started taking steps to accommodate more than 185,000 students in the next academic year, Al- Sedarawi explained the campaign includes Arabic schools and talks have also started on the possibility of providing MoE with vaccines, although the expected quantity is very minimal.Asserting MoE will always consider the suggestions of its health counterpart to prevent the spread of swine flu, Al-Sedarawi admitted “we might consider closing down schools in case of a pandemic.” She also vowed to coordinate with other concerned officials to look into the possibility of reducing time allocated for the morning assembly to avoid crowds in schools. Commenting on Al-Sedarawi’s request to provide schools with face masks, Public Health Department Manager Dr Rashid Al-Owais pointed out this mechanism has been proven effective in other parts of the world. He clarified only doctors and nurses looking after infected patients are required to wear these masks. Confirming that MoH will provide school clinics with face masks and protective gear, stated Kuwait has ordered 45,000 vaccination injections, which will be delivered in October. Meanwhile, Chairman of Private Schools Union Omar Al-Ghareer asked MoE to coordinate closely with the cooperative societies for the supply of cleaning items at the beginning of the school year. He also urged owners of private schools to prepare quarantine rooms for suspected swine flu cases in schools prior to their transfer to the Infectious Diseases Hospital.

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