Karabo Mokoena
Content producer
3 minute read
12 May 2021
4:29 pm

Flu or Covid-19? Parents face tough winter ahead

Karabo Mokoena

Winter is upon us and, sadly for many parents, this might mean skipping school and work to keep others safe.

Parents are advised to keep their children at home when they display Covid-19 like symptoms. Picture: iStock

For parents with school-going children, contracting the influenza virus is a nightmare in this new normal.

Usually, parents just stock up on some vitamins, get the appropriate medications to treat the associated symptoms and maybe keep their kids home should the kids be too ill. Now, parents must keep their children home should they display symptoms that are closely linked to Covid-19.

Some schools are asking parents to sign a Covid-19 indemnity form that requires them to keep their children home should they display any symptoms similar to those of Covid-19. There is a long list of these symptoms, but the ones on top of the list include:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Tiredness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sore throat
  • Aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose

ALSO READ: Are parents forced to sign Covid-19 indemnity forms from schools?

Is it Covid-19 or flu?

The requirement to keep your child home when they start displaying these symptoms is not only dependent on whether or not they are Covid-19 positive or not. The intention is to ensure that fewer children are infected by the virus. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) “influenza can spread faster than Covid-19”.

This is due to two things:

  • Influenza has a shorter period between infection to appearance of symptoms.
  • Pre-symptomatic transmission occurring in 1-3 days is high.

ALSO READ: What is the difference between flu, allergies and coronavirus in your kids

Like Covid-19, the influenza virus is transmitted through contact, droplets and surfaces that are likely to carry the virus. Practicing good hygiene works equally well for lowering transmission.

However, schools are advising parents to rather keep their children at home until their symptoms have passed. Your child will most likely experience symptoms for up to four days, usually quite abruptly if it’s flu and gradually if it is a cold.

Grade 2 mom Zoleka Queency says: “Kids are kids and playing together is inevitable. When there’s too many of them the teachers won’t be able to control their social distancing.”

This is why she opts to keep her daughter in grade 2 at home when she starts displaying flu symptoms.

“It’s very irresponsible of a parent to send a sick child to school and to put other kids at risk of getting sick,” Guateng mom Swastie Guri adds.

Keeping your child at home not only helps them get better but protects the other children.

If you don’t, the school will send them home

Not every parent has the capacity to stay at home and look after a sick child. Some parents are raising their children singlehandedly, while some parents are employed full time with no one to help at home.

Mom of two Natalie Greaver says: “My daughter has stayed home a few times during the first term because if they have two or more symptoms they aren’t allowed in school.”

Some parents are even called in to come to collect their children should they display symptoms that are risky for other children.

How to protect your children this flu season

  • Get the flu shot/vaccine
  • Give your child multivitamins and immune boosters
  • Encourage them to wear their mask and practice social distancing
  • Keep them home when they are ill