Don't send kids to school with alcohol-based hand sanitiser, parents urged
Parents have been warned not to send their children to primary school with alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
In a starkly worded alert, the National Poisons Information Centre (NPIC) says it would amount to "sending a child to school with a naggin of vodka".
The NPIC, which is based at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, notes that a 100ml bottle of 80pc alcohol hand sanitiser contains the same amount of alcohol as a 200ml bottle of 40pc vodka.
As schools and families prepare for the return to classrooms, there are reports that some principals are asking parents to pack hand rubs/gels as an extra precaution.
Where schools are advising this, it is not clear whether they have drawn a distinction between those that are alcohol-based and those without alcohol.
Schools have received funding to provide hand sanitisers and the Department of Education's reopening plan also encourages the promotion of hand washing.
The department advises that when gels/rubs are being used, care should be taken to ensure that pupils do not ingest them as they are flammable and toxic. It also states that young children should not have independent use of containers of alcohol gel.
But the NPIC is concerned that parents may think giving alcohol hand sanitisers to children may protect them from Covid-19 and it has posted a warning on its Facebook page.
Among its concerns are that some hand-sanitiser bottles may be similar in appearance to a water bottle and may be mistaken for a drink.
It is also worried that toy-like, novelty hand-sanitiser containers have become available, which may appear attractive to children and the contents may be ingested.
A number of parents commenting on the NPIC post are reporting that their schools have asked for hand sanitisers to be sent in with children.
The NPIC experienced a doubling in calls, to 173, about bleach, hand sanitiser and disinfectant products during the early weeks of the Covid-19 crisis, between March and May.
The reopening of schools comes against the backdrop of a recent surge in Covid-19 cases, increasing anxiety in some quarters.
Speaking on RTÉ yesterday about the closure of some schools in Germany because of Covid-19 outbreaks, Professor Philip Nolan, chair of the Nphet Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said it was quite certain that in almost all of those cases the virus was acquired at home.
He said there was little evidence internationally that schools were a major site of transmission of Covid-19.
Mr Nolan said if there were two children in the same school with Covid in two months, it was much more likely that they would have got it separately within their own homes, rather than through transmission in school.
A Dublin City University survey has found that 40pc of primary teachers are concerned about how play and play-based lessons will be affected by measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus in schools.