“We have waited for over nine months. Another month or so would not have mattered,” said Dr Kelkar.
While the Maharashtra government has allowed schools to re-open for senior classes with parental permission, the move has seen sections of the medical community raise concerns.
Dr Dhananjay Kelkar, medical director of Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, said a vaccine against coronavirus was round the corner. “We have waited for over nine months. Another month or so would not have mattered,” said Dr Kelkar.
“Children can be asymptomatic carriers and there are chances of Covid-19 spreading to parents and grandparents. So, while we understand the mental and emotional toll this entire shutdown of schools has had on children, for a while online classes could have continued,” said Dr Sanjay Patil, chairman of Indian Medical Association’s (IMA’s) Hospital Board of India.
Dr Umesh Vaidya, regional medical director of Cloud Nine Hospitals (West), also agreed that there was a definite risk. “The risk of Covid-19 is lower for children, but it is likely that the child can bring the virus to the family. While the government has taken many risks and we have to open up some day, at least on the school front, we could have waited for a while. Now it is a wait and watch situation,” said Dr Vaidya.
Dr Jayant Navrange, spokesperson of IMA- Pune, said it was a difficult situation. “Though protection via vaccination may take time, schools could have waited for a while and continued with online classes,” he said.
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According to Dr H K Sale, executive director at Noble Hospital, sporadic cases of couples with young children, infected with coronavirus, have been reported recently. “Parents are also confused and some close friends ask for our advice. Precautions have to be taken and students should avoid overcrowding,” said Dr Sale.
“Just how much social distancing is observed… that is something we will have to wait and watch,” he said.
Dr Jayesh Lele, honorary secretary general of IMA HQ, said schools that have reopened will have to be on the radar. “We will have to remain watchful for a month or so and ensure cleanliness, hand sanitation and all the other precautions.,” Dr Lele said, adding, “No doubt the number of Covid-19 cases has come down but still, this is a calculated risk and students of senior classes will have to be careful.”
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