While education across the world has been gravely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, parents in Dubai have been extremely grateful to have the option of choosing between in-classroom schooling and home learning since the schools resumed for the Autumn term in September 2020.
More than half of Dubai’s school children (53%) chose to attend physical school according to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) figures from Autumn 2020, and there are countless benefits of classroom-based learning for children, including the ability to interact with peers, as well as the obvious benefit of childcare provision for parents.
However, in-classroom teaching has only been possible with the implementation of and adherence to very strict COVID-19 precautions and protocols.
The KHDA has issued a reminder to parents of one of these protocols, which is what should happen if your child is classed as the close contact of someone from school who tests positive for COVID-19.
Your child is a close contact but is asymptomatic? Here’s what to do….
The KHDA shared a visual cautionary tale on its Twitter feed, showing the two very different decisions taken by two Dubai families whose children were classed as a close contact of a positive case at their school. “Here are the TRUE stories of two families in Dubai,” the post reads. “Their situation was similar, but their behaviour was very different. Which one are you?”
The true stories are based on two kindergarten children, Maya and Adam, who are both classed as close contacts of a child who has tested positive in their class, and therefore switch to distance learning.
Both children are close contacts, and yet neither Maya nor Adam is showing any sign of having caught COVID-19 from their classmate.
Whereas Maya’s parents choose to keep her home for the full 10 days regardless, Adam’s parents decide that he is not showing symptoms so it must be OK to take him to a soft play centre.
The KHDA points out that, while Maya’s parents behaved in a safe way, Adam’s parents’ behaviour risked the health and safety of others.
The post concludes with the warning: “If a member of your family is considered a close contact, he or she must self-isolate for 10 days.”
This is a reminder that both Dubai Health Authority and KHDA regulations state that close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case must self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their age and regardless of whether or not they exhibit any symptoms. Close contacts must also continue to self-isolate for the full 10 days, even if they get a negative PCR text result during the self-isolation period.
The DHA Guidelines on Close Contacts and Quarantine
The DHA issued updated guidelines in January 2021 in a document titled ‘Quarantine and Precautionary Guidelines’, which outlines the definition of a close contact, the quarantine period, and what close contacts must do. Here is a summary:
What does ‘Close Contact’ mean?
A close contact is any individual who spent time with a confirmed COVID-19 case, whether it was two days before their symptoms appeared or since the person received their positive result or any time during the 10 days of infection.
When does the quarantine period start from?
The 10-day quarantine period begins from the date of the last contact with the infected person after he tests positive for COVID-19 if you met him for more than 15 minutes and if the physical distance maintained was less than 2 meters. For example: If you had dinner with a friend on the 1st of September and on the 3rd of September you were informed that your friend has tested positive for COVID-19, your quarantine period will begin from the 1st of September (date of last contact) until the 10th of September.
What do close contacts need to do in Dubai?
- The close contact needs to directly quarantine in a separate room for 10 days and follow precautionary measures to ensure the safety of others.
- DHA will contact and inform the close contact of the necessary procedures OR the close contact can call DHA on the toll-free number 800 342.
- The quarantine period is 10 days and there is no need to undergo a PCR test if there are no symptoms.
- If ANY symptoms appear during the 04 quarantine period, call 800 342 to book a PCR test appointment.
- If the test result is positive, you will be contacted for isolation procedures.
- If the test result is negative, you must still complete the 10-day quarantine period.
- Close contacts can obtain an “End of Quarantine Certificate” by calling 800 342 or through the COVID-19 DXB App