No plans to shut schools over rotavirus

There are no plans to shut schools down following confirmation by health authorities of a rotavirus outbreak, says the Ministry of Education chief, Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Afamasaga-Fuata'i. 

The Ministry of Education Sports and Culture C.E.O. told the Samoa Observer that the Ministry currently has no plans to close down schools.

She said her Ministry is currently working with the Ministry of Health (M.O..H.)( to raise awareness on the outbreak.

“Our Ministry collaborates with the Ministry of Health and N.E.O.C. about the outbreak of Rotavirus and see how we will deal with it,” said Afamasaga.

“The public notice by the Ministry of Health on the 23rd of July and today we prepared our announcement which goes together with M.O.H.’s notice to give out to schools.

“We will give out notices and records in order for every government school, church schools and private schools to be aware of rotavirus.”

Afamasaga said students who are currently sick are advised to stay home without going to school.

As part of the awareness and advocacy connected to the recently emerged virus, the M.E.S.C. is asking students to maintain good personal hygiene and wash hands with soap after using restrooms.

This would ensure germs are removed as failure to do so could see the rotavirus spread from one to another.

“If students want to minimise the risk of infection and also enhance their overall health they must be clean every time,” says Afamasaga.

The M.O.H. in a press release distributed on Sunday revealed that they have detected 31 cases of the rotavirus

The Ministry sent out a press release dated 23rd July 2021 on Sunday, which warned of the dangers of the virus, while revealing that hospital surveillance in the last fortnight noted an increase in the number of diarrhea cases reported on a yearly basis as per surveillance monitoring.

“Most of the cases are reported to reside in locations in Apia Urban Area and North West Upolu Area,” reads the M.O.H. press release.

“As of 22nd July 2021 a total of 31 rotavirus cases have been confirmed by laboratory testing. Further testing and investigations and contact tracing are ongoing to measure and trace the source of transmission and people affected.”

According to the Ministry the signs and symptoms of the infection include severe diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever which tend to last five to seven days. 

The rotavirus is very contagious and spreads easily among children and babies with its spread by faecal oral route (or hand to mouth) transmission, exacerbated by poor personal hygiene, sanitation and contaminated water supply.

“The rotavirus spreads by faeces of the infected person/ child and is passed to other person’s children. 

“This can be through direct contact from hand to mouth from contaminated clothing, bedding, food, drinks, water, eating utensils, toys and any contaminated surface.”

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