World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, July 30, that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is not specifically targeting children. In a press conference, the US expert said, "Let me be very clear: we are not seeing the Delta variant specifically target children". WHO's COVID-19 technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove said that the Delta variant first emerged in India and was being transmitted who were mixing socially.
As compared to the earlier variant of COVID-19, the Delta variant is more transmissible and has now been detected in a total of 132 countries. According to the UN health agency, research was underway to have the better understanding of the dynamics of Delta variant and its transmissibility. Further, she said that the variants are circulating and will infect people if they do not follow COVID appropriate behaviour. Basically, she referred to the measures like physical distancing, and avoiding gathering in poor-ventilated areas, crowded-indoor spaces. WHO has also published a plan to reopen the schools with complete safety.
WHO suggested plan for reopening of schools
WHO has prepared a multi-level coordination plan to reopen the schools due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, published on its official website. At first, National measures would be taken issued by MoH and MoE to guide school level interventions. Secondly, Subnational measures would be implemented by municipalities, local level education directorates to support school level interventions. Third, measures would be implemented by school administrations.
National Level measures
- Infection-prevention measures including hygiene and daily practices at schools, environmental cleaning, etc.
- MoE in collaboration with MoH to issue a national policy on wearing of masks in schools.
- Update national plan on disease outbreak preparedness and response based on best practices and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Update guidance on remote education support in the eventuality of an increased number of cases and moving to an online learning environment.
- Establish a continuity plan for vaccination programmes, mental health programmes and psychological support for students, teachers and school staff during school discontinuity.
- Establish a committee for continuous monitoring and evaluation of the situation in schools in collaboration with the education sector.
Subnational level measures
- Local public health authority to collaborate with school authorities to ensure epidemiological surveillance in schools.
- Ensure that school response protocols are in accordance with the public health department recommendations or national/local policies and guidelines.
- Support and sustain critical needs, including school feeding and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities; and sustain essential equipment (e.g. soap, alcohol-based hand-rub, masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff involved in cleaning and disinfection)18 to ensure they are available for students, teachers and school staff, as appropriate.
- 6. Local authorities to review and adapt contingency plans for disease outbreak preparedness and response for schools, and to ensure essential school-based health services during school closure.
- Contingency plans are available to support schools’ food distribution programmes to vulnerable population groups in case of school closures and are disseminated with related standard operating procedures.
School level measures
- Implementing strict COVID-19 protocols for staff and students both.
- School administrators and teachers to ensure adequate ventilation, using natural ventilation in classrooms, canteens and other rooms.
- To develop the guidance on protection measures through communication materials like notes, posters, etc.
- Adequate supply of basic hygiene facilities in the school.
- Teachers to conduct regular health awareness sessions in order to spread awareness against COVID-19.
- If the cases in detected in the school, then it should be immediately isolated.