As states reopen schools, WHO top scientist offers advice
World Health Organization (WHO) chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan has supported the reopening of schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Swaminathan said offline classes must be restarted with due focus on safety guidelines such as social distancing, masking, hand hygiene, among others. Her comments come as several states across India plan to reopen schools. Here are more details.
'COVID-19's impact on children will last a long time'
"The impact (of COVID-19) on children's mental, physical and cognitive well-being will last a long time," Dr. Swaminathan tweeted on Tuesday. "School openings must be prioritized with distancing, masking, avoiding indoor singing and gatherings, hand hygiene & vaccination of all adults (sic)," she added.
Here is the tweet by Dr. Swaminathan
The impact on children's mental, physical and cognitive wellbeing will last a long time. School openings must be prioritized with distancing, masking, avoiding indoor singing and gatherings, hand hygiene vaccination of all adults @mhrdschools @DrYasminAHaque @NITIAayog @UNICEF https://t.co/vgWcTZ6Nnk— Soumya Swaminathan (@doctorsoumya) August 10, 2021
Dr. Swaminathan stresses on vaccinating teachers
Dr. Swaminathan had earlier said that vaccinating teachers would be a major step in protecting children at schools until vaccines are unavailable for them. "I am very hopeful that ultimately we'll have vaccine for children. But that's not going to happen this year, and we should open schools when community transmission is down...And if teachers are vaccinated, that would be a big step forward."
Several states across India have reopened schools
Several states and union territories across India have either reopened schools or are planning to do so. Punjab, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Nagaland, and Himachal Pradesh have reopened schools, Union Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan recently said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha. Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra are expected to reopen schools later this month.
When will India have a vaccine for children?
India would have a vaccine for children starting this month, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had earlier said. Zydus Cadila, which tested its coronavirus vaccine on participants aged 12 and above, is likely to receive approval soon. Besides, Bharat Biotech, which produces COVAXIN, is also currently testing that vaccine on children. Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna can also be used when they arrive here.
India had faced a devastating coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, reporting lakhs of cases and thousands of deaths daily. The situation has since improved, with daily infections hovering around 40,000 for the past few weeks. India has administered over 50 crore vaccine doses. Even though 29% of Indians have received at least one vaccine shot, just above 8% have been fully inoculated as yet.