SCHOOLS in one U.S. state, it turns out, have been forced to close their doors to students after a “triple disease” of flu, Covid and Strep A struck them.
Scores of students in the Kentucky school district were struck down less than two weeks after classes began, with a fifth of the students calling in sick.
UK schools are preparing to welcome back their pupils in less than two weeks, prompting fears there could be a spike in errors in the new school year.
Latest statistics from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) suggest that Covid infections have doubled in England in the last month as two new, heavily mutated variants emerge.
However, there is no evidence that the newest varieties “Pirola” and “Eris” are any more dangerous than other Omicron variants.
Additionally, the extensive rollout of vaccines in both the US and UK means that most people have a good level of immunity to the pathogen.
The Lee County School District, which serves nearly 900 students, began classes Aug. 9.
But Superintendent Earl Ray Schuler said so NBC News that by the end of the week about a fifth of the students had called in sick.
When attendance did not improve the following week and both students and teachers contracted Covid, Grade A, flu or other illnesses, the school district canceled classes through Wednesday and held them online for the next two days.
The district is home to an elementary school and a combined middle and high school.
According to Mr. Schuler, the outbreaks were evenly distributed between the two, and in both cases the same number of students called in sick.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Covid data trackerCases of the virus appear to be rising in the United States this month, with both hospital admissions and deaths up about 21 percent.
This came after the new Pirola variant – known scientifically as BA.2.86 – was discovered in the US, as well as the UK, Denmark and Israel.
As for the flu, said Dr. Danny Benjamin — a professor of pediatrics at Duke University — told NBC it was early for major flu outbreaks to occur.
He predicted they wouldn’t start in earnest in schools until early October.
He added that US school districts should be prepared for outbreaks of Covid and other non-flu viruses.
The CDC does not track Strep A nationally.
The UK was hit by a spate of Strep A cases last winter. At least 426 people – including 48 children – have died from Strep A in the last eight months, according to UKHSA data.
As for Covid, around 875 Brits had contracted the virus as of August 11, up from 449 on July 11, according to the latest government statistics.
And hospital admissions also rose for the sixth straight month, with 2,171 people hospitalized with the virus in the week ended August 11.
The flu season picks up in October in the UK and usually lasts until March.
Vaccines to protect against this are being offered in England to people over 65, people in clinical risk groups and pregnant women. The government is also extending protection to 11- to 16-year-olds this year.