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The Real Story of Coronavirus Covid 19 Direct from Schools. Reshmi Menon, GEMS Our Own Indian School, On the Record.

The Real Story of Coronavirus Covid 19 Direct from Schools. Reshmi Menon, GEMS Our Own Indian School, On the Record.

by Jon WestleyMarch 17, 2020

Background: The Real Story of Coronavirus Covid 19 Direct from Schools – We Speak with Reshmi Menon, Headmistress of GEMS Our Own Indian School, On the Record.

There is so much information in the press and social media that it is getting harder, and harder, for us all as parents to understand and distinguish truth from fiction.

We decided that the best way to cut through all this is to go to schools directly and get the real story on and from the front-line.

In this series of short videos, we talk to different schools to find out what is really happening, what is being done for children and parents – and the reality of what learning from home looks like.

Some of the questions we have asked include:

  • What are the challenges we are all going to face?
  • Are there benefits – can we find some positives in all this?
  • How are schools responding to your worries?
  • How does distance learning work in the best schools?
  • Will children be inspired by this kind of learning?
  • What do you as parents need to do?
  • Are schools really ready to completely change the way they teach children?

In this, our second exclusive video, we speak with Reshmi Menon, Headmistress of GEMS Our Own Indian School, on the record to get the real story of Coronavirus Covid 19.

More on GEMS Our Own Indian School can be found here.

If you have questions for schools we can ask in our future videos please mail us directly here.


Backgrounder – Key facts Today at a Glance and What to Do if you Believe that You or Your Children are Infected

Help for Parents with Coronavirus Covid 19 with FAQ and status update

As of 3 March 2020, the World Health Organisation calculated that the Coronavirus Covid-19 virus has an average 3.4% fatality rate making it 30 times more deadly than the flu virus. The flu virus kills between 290,000 and 650,000 people a year globally. The earliest estimation for global availability of a vaccine is projected to be September 2021.

As of 20:00, 17 March 2020, 180,159 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in 87 countries and territories, including 7,103 deaths. The deaths have been reported from China (3,226), Italy (2, 158), Iran (853), Spain (309), France (148), United States (85), South Korea (81), United Kingdom (55), Japan (28), Netherlands (24), Switzerland (14), Germany (13), Philippines (12), Iraq (9), San Marino (9), International conveyance in Japan (7), Sweden (7), Australia (5), Belgium (5), Indonesia (5), Algeria (4), Canada (4), Greece (4), Poland (4), Austria (3), India (3), Lebanon (3), Norway (3), Argentina (2), Bulgaria (2), Ecuador (2), Egypt (2), Ireland (2), Albania (1), Bahrain (1), Denmark (1), Guatemala (1), Guyana (1), Hungary (1), Luxembourg (1), Morocco (1), Panama (1), Sudan (1), Taiwan (1) and Thailand (1).

Infection rates vary in countries between 1% and 6% depending on multiple factors including the age of the population.

UK models suggest that just under 1 per cent of people who contract coronavirus will die with complete lock-downs in place. 4.5 per cent of those infected will need to be hospitalised of which a third will need critical care. Half of those critical-care patients will not survive. The current death rate increases significantly by age although people of all ages have gone on to require critical care. Current guidance is that to see this as a disease exclusively impacting only those over 50 is inaccurate.

The UAE government has acted exceptionally swiftly relative to many other governments to flatten the curve by closing schools – and has so far been successful in containing the virus to just 74 cases as of 1 March 2020. The approach of the KHDA, ADEK and UAE government is to recognise that “we are all in this together” and that we must all follow guidance, however difficult, to protect ourselves, our families and everyone in society.

It is likely that the UAE government will take further actions as global consensus is reached on how to best manage the impact of the Coronavirus Covid 19 on economies and minimising deaths.

As of 17 March 2020, there are only two confirmed cases of Coronavirus Covid-19 in UAE schools. A total of 98 cases have been officially confirmed to the World Health Organisation in the United Arab Emirates.

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reports that:

“There have been very few reports of the clinical outcomes for children with COVID-19 to date. Limited reports from China suggest that children with confirmed COVID-19 may present with mild symptoms and though severe complications (acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock) have been reported, they appear to be uncommon. However, as with other respiratory illnesses, certain populations of children may be at increased risk of severe infection, such as children with underlying health conditions.

Limited reports of children with COVID-19 in China have described cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting and diarrhoea) have been reported in at least one child with COVID-19.”

Positively, the World Heath Organisation states:

“We are [only] eight weeks into this Coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak: yet we have identified the virus, we have the genetic sequence, PCR & serological assay in use. This wealth of knowledge is unprecedented for a new disease.”

Currently there is no cure. The worldwide approach is currently to lock-down and wait for a vaccine. Best case estimates for availability of a globally available vaccine are between 12 months and 18 months. Only five years ago the estimate would have been nearer ten years.

  • More on the UAE Government decision to close every school in the UAE to protect children can be found here.
  • More on the UAE government decision to close all nursery schools can be found here.
  • More on the UAE Government decision to ban school events can be found here.
  • More on the first confirmed case of Coronavirus Covid 19 in a UAE school at the Indian High School, Senior Campus can be found here.

The single major action parents and students can take to protect themselves is to wash their hands. Medical specialist face masks are not advised for adults and are illegal for use by children because they restrict airflow and could result in respiratory failure if used over a long period. Paracetamol should be used in the case of suspected infection. Ibuprofen should not be used.

Current advice is for families not to travel by air unless it is absolutely unavoidable or an emergency.

A dedicated hotline has been set up to advise worried schools and parents on 06-7017000 and email at [email protected] for issues that arise during the closure of schools and universities and the Coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak.

Over 620 school buildings have been completely sterilised to date, in addition to 6,000 school buses.

More than 168,000 students have been enrolled in a pilot Distance Learning programme in Abu Dhabi

To report suspected cases of Coronavirus Covid-19, parents are asked to call:

  • The Dubai Health Authority: 800 342
  • The Ministry of Health and Prevention: 800 11111.
  • The Department of Health Estijaba service: 800 1717

For parents in Abu Dhabi facing a crisis in looking after their children during the closure of nursery schools an emergency hotline is available on: +971 58 5886570 or the toll-free number 80051115.

For parents in Dubai, the KHDA is providing comprehensive support for parents here.

More information for parents and families on the real story of Coronavirus Covid 19, direct from schools, can be found on

This is a rapidly developing story. Decisions are subject to change. We will publish more information for parents live as we receive it.

If you have a ground-breaking story in UAE education, please mail the News Desk 24/7 at [email protected] 

© 2020. All rights reserved.


About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]

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