Schools allay MERS fears

Published — Sunday 13 April 2014

Health Minister Abdullah Al-Rabeeah visited a number of hospitals in Jeddah on Saturday to take stock of the measures to tackle the coronavirus that has caused alarm among Saudis and expatriates and the medical fraternity.

Several parents have stopped their children from going to school to avoid the deadly virus that has so far claimed 66 lives in the Kingdom.

The Ministry of Education, meanwhile, denied the closure of schools “as there is no coronavirus among students.”

Some directors of local schools told Arab News that “a limited number, especially kindergartners” did not attend school because of coronavirus fears.

The schools have sent massages to their parents reassuring them that there are no coronavirus cases among students but they preferred to let their children stay at home until the virus is eliminated.

“I cannot send my children to school before being sure that the disease is controlled. My two sons are at the primary stage and it is easy to have this virus,” said Mahmoud Al-Maimany, a Saudi national who lives in Jeddah.

“We need more health guarantees to send our children again to school, when there are hundreds who have this disease,” said Khaled Aba Numai, a Yemeni.

“This virus is spreading and the schools represent a proper environment for infection,” he said.
A top education official in Jeddah, meanwhile, said there are no recorded cases of coronavirus in schools and no school had been closed.

However, there are plans in place to tackle any future cases of coronavirus in schools, Sabq, an electronic newspaper, quoted Abdullah Al-Thaqafi, director of education in Jeddah, as saying.
“We will close any school that records coronavirus cases among students until a health check of all students is carried out,” he said.

“Several doctors will launch awareness campaigns against the disease and they will supervise the health situation at all schools,” he said.

Al-Thaqafi said some reports, published by an electronic newspaper, had caused concern among parents.
He received a large number of calls from citizens inquiring about the situation and he told them that the published story was incorrect.

Abdullah Al-Malik, a education supervisor at a private school, said: “We have launched an awareness campaign among our students against this virus. We have also sterilized all classes. I think these actions can encourage the parents to send their children to school.”

Authorities have launched all-out efforts to prevent an outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in the country.

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