Back to School Advice Issued Amid High Levels of Flu, COVID-19 and Scarlet Fever

As pupils and students return to school following the Christmas break, UK Health Security Agency is reminding people that winter illnesses continue to circulate at high levels.

Following simple steps can help protect children, minimise the spread of illness in education and childcare settings and protect wider communities.

Flu and coronavirus (COVID-19) are currently circulating at high levels and are likely to continue to increase in coming weeks. High numbers of scarlet fever, which is caused by group A streptococcus, also continue to be reported.

It’s important to minimise the spread of infection in schools and other education and childcare settings as much as possible. If your child is unwell and has a fever, they should stay home from school or nursery until they feel better and the fever has resolved.

Helping children to learn about the importance of good hand hygiene is also key, so practice regular handwashing at home with soap and warm water. Catching coughs and sneezes in tissues then binning them is another simple way to help stop illness from spreading.

Adults should also try to stay home when unwell and if you do have to go out, wear a face covering. When unwell don’t visit healthcare settings or visit vulnerable people unless urgent.

Remember that flu vaccination is still available for all eligible groups and is the best protection against the virus. We have seen good uptake in older age groups but vaccination among young children remains low. Flu can be very unpleasant and in some cases can lead to more serious illness. Getting your child vaccinated protects them and others they come into contact with, and it’s still not too late.

Eligible children include:

  • those aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2022
  • all primary school-aged children
  • some secondary school-aged children

You can get more information getting your child vaccinated against flu on NHS.UK.

Click here for more information.

MHA Communities – Warm Wednesdays in December

We started a new service at West Croydon Methodist Church to bring a new initiative in the heart of Croydon.

During this challenging time of the year, it is important to broaden up our support to older people and to offer a safe space for conversation. We also invite local organisations to join us. In fact, Croydon Community Energy will join our December sessions to advice older people on bills and the current challenges we are all facing.

In January, we will be joined by Croydon Healthy Homes partnership, an energy advice service to advise people on bills.

We have planned a great surprise for the December sessions with music and lots of food. Come and celebrate Christmas with us and connect with new and old friends.

NHS Croydon Health Services – Continuing our Care During Strike Days

A number of trade unions have announced national strikes in the run-up to Christmas in the ongoing pay dispute with the government. We recognise the rights of staff to strike, however the majority of union members did not vote for industrial action at our Trust in Croydon.

Our services will be running as normal during strike days, and we would encourage patients to attend their planned appointments, unless we have contacted you to reschedule.

It is really important that people who need urgent medical care continue to come forward, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases, when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.

We would ask people to only call 999 if it is a medical or mental health emergency, when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.

If you feel unwell or need advice please go to or call NHS 111, free from any landline or mobile, so that trained advisors can help you get the care you need quickly.

For more information on when to call 999 and when to go to A&E, you can visit the NHS UK website.

For more information:

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) Update on Scarlet Fever and Invasive Group A Strep

The latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows that scarlet fever cases continue to remain higher than we would typically see at this time of year.

UK health officials are advising schools on how to combat Strep A infections.

Since Covid restrictions eased, there are more opportunities for infections like this to spread. Cases have been increasing in recent weeks.

While most people do not get extremely sick, the highly contagious bacteria that causes the infection can cause serious illness and complications.

What is Strep A?

It’s a bacteria sometimes found in the throat or on the skin.

Many people carry it harmlessly without even knowing, but they can spread it to others who might become ill.


How can you get it?

People can catch it through close contact and from coughs and sneezes.

Outbreaks can sometimes happen in places like schools and care homes.

What are the symptoms?

Most often, symptoms are mild – a sore throat or a skin infection that can be easily treated with antibiotics.

But Strep A can cause a range of things – and some of them are more serious.

One is scarlet fever, which mostly affects young children and, again, needs antibiotics.

Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness, but it is highly infectious.

Therefore, look out for symptoms in your child, which include:

  • a sore throat,
  • headache,
  • swollen neck glands,
  • fever, along with a fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel.
  • On darker skin, the rash can be more difficult to detect visually but will have a sandpapery feel.
  • Someone who has scarlet fever may have what doctors call a strawberry tongue – because its appearance looks a bit like a strawberry.

Contact NHS 111 or your GP if you suspect your child has scarlet fever, because early treatment of scarlet fever with antibiotics is important to reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia or a bloodstream infection.

If your child has scarlet fever, keep them at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.

How dangerous is Strep A (GAS) and am I at any increased risk of this disease?

It can be a serious illness, but if treated promptly with antibiotics, it is less of a threat. After at least 24 hours of antibiotics, it is generally thought to no longer be contagious.

Good hand and respiratory hygiene are important for stopping the spread of many bugs. By teaching your child how to wash their hands properly with soap for 20 seconds, using a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes, and keeping away from others when feeling unwell, they will be able to reduce the risk of picking up or spreading infections.

What should you do if you have symptoms?

Contact your GP and get medical advice straight away if you believe you or your child have symptoms of either GAS or iGAS.

Strep throat should be different from a regular sore throat, as the pain can come on quickly.

Dr Colin Brown, Deputy Director, UKHSA, said:

It is important that parents are on the lookout for symptoms and see a doctor as quickly as possible so that their child can be treated and we can stop the infection becoming serious.

Make sure you talk to a health professional if your child is showing signs of deteriorating after a bout of scarlet fever, a sore throat, or a respiratory infection.

Trading Standards – Electrical Safety Concerns

As the colder months arrive and the cost of living continues to increase, charity Electrical Safety First have warned about the risks of unsafe and incorrect use of electrical, portable heaters.

Although electric heaters were not inherently dangerous, they could cause devastating fires if not used with care. Fan heaters pose a greater risk in the home.

Electrical Safety First is urging people using heaters to ensure:

  • the device is on a level surface, well away from anything or anyone that could knock it over
  • it is well away from combustible materials, such as paper, furniture or curtains
  • it is never used to dry clothes
  • it is never left unattended for long periods while in use, or while you are asleep
  • extension leads are not used to power a heater as they can easily be overloaded
  • you regularly inspect your heater for damage and deterioration

For further information and advice from Electrical Safety First, please visit:

Electrical Safety First – The UK’s Electrical Safety Experts

For the full article raising awareness of this issue please visit:
Cost of living: Electric heaters may pose fire risks despite savings – BBC News

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