Mumbai: Schools are almost back to normal, but parents in the city are still worried about hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD), which is spreading and is particularly harmful to children right now. Doctors across the city claim to be seeing 15-20 cases every day. Parents are raising awareness among others to stop the spread.
This disease, which affects younger children frequently, has several symptoms, including fever, sore throat, runny nose, mouth ulcers, and loss of appetite. Rashes or blisters are frequently found on the hands, foot, forearm, and mouth.
Parents across the city are concerned about the spread and are tackling the problem and say the responsibility lies with them. Simone Khambatta, a parent of two kids, both of them suffering from HFMD said, "After two years of Covid, I would also love for my children to attend school and not miss out on learning, but we parents need to understand that we shouldn't send our children to school until they have been fever-free for 24 hours. If a child exhibits any of the signs, schools should send them home. The only way to stop the ongoing recurrent infections is for us to start caring about other children as much as we do about our own."
Another parent, Radhika Nihalani whose kids just recovered from the disease said, "We must strive to break the chain. Parents must be extra vigilant, if you observe even the slightest thing, keep your child at home. Additionally, schools need to increase the frequency of sanitization. To accomplish this, we must all work together."
Talking about the disease, which can be further stopped by taking measures, Dr. Nihar Parekh, a Pediatrician and Director, of Cheers Child Care, said, "It is highly contagious, and we are almost getting more than 10 cases every day. Children are affected for 6–8 days, and for the first three days, they won't be able to eat properly. Parents don't need to force their children to eat; they can just give them simple food, keep them home and avoid sending them to school for at least 8 days or until they recover. That would be ideal for the safety of other children."
Schools have taken steps to reach out to kids who are missing out on learning because of the spread of infection to a greater extent. "We have been sending school activities home to ensure the child doesn't miss out on learning. We have been using disinfectants to clean objects like toys and building blocks. We make sure that trays are always refilled with fresh sand," said Swati Popat Vats, President of Podar Education Network and Early Childhood Association.
"As this disease is contagious, daycares and kindergartens should be alert for children who have a fever, or rashes. For the other kids' safety, make sure that any children who have HFMD are not allowed to visit your centre," she added.
Pre-primary schools have already begun and have started taking proactive steps to ensure the safety of students, teachers, and staff. Rupali Kadam, EuroKids Preschool, Thane Dhokali Centre, said, “We have a team of dedicated staff for mandatory temperature screening at the entrance and is deployed for daily disinfection of the high-touch surfaces at regular intervals. Hand hygiene is encouraged in all places. We have SOPs in place to ensure that everyone adheres to proper physical distancing and avoids exchanging stationaries and snacks."
"We also have made parents aware of the spread of the disease, and if in case a child develops symptoms, parents are advised not to send their child to school and follow proper measures to ensure safe recovery of children," she added.