Teacher union concerns about spreading Covid-19 need to be aired: Prof Glenda Gray

Glenda Gray says we can’t blame children for infecting children. File photo.
Glenda Gray says we can’t blame children for infecting children. File photo.
Image: Ruvan Boshoff

It is unlikely that children are worse off at school than they are at home when it comes to Covid-19 transmissions, says the president of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), Prof Glenda Gray.

"We haven’t seen an adverse outcome of their exposure in households or in transportation of children and the areas in which they live ... It is unlikely to expect that children coming to school are doing worse than when they were at home,” Gray told eNCA on Wednesday morning.

This week teacher unions called on the government to close schools nationwide until after the Covid-19 pandemic has reached its peak. 

Gray, who is also a member of the health department's ministerial advisory committee, told eNCA it was important for the government to engage unions to understand their concerns.

“It’s all about communication and it will be important for us to hear from the unions exactly what they are concerned about and how we can address their concerns. Maybe if we hear what their concerns are, we can show them the data on how transmission occurs and the data around children and adults.”

Gray said it was important to ensure that children are not confined in congested spaces, and are washing hands and wearing masks.

“Everyone has to adhere to non-pharmaceutical interventions, and if we don’t we are going to transmit to each other. We can’t blame children for infecting children.

“We have to make sure that wherever you are, you implement the interventions we know will impact on the transmission. We need to make sure that windows are open and there is lots of ventilation."

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