29/07/2009 06:31 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Schools And Nurseries Warned That Toys Could Spread Swine Flu

The Government has warned that toys, crayons and musical instruments could spread swine flu among children.

Guidance has been published telling childminders, schools and nurseries that soft toys should be avoided altogether as they cannot be cleaned.

Hard toys should be washed after use as the virus can survive on hard surfaces and pencils, crayons and pens should not be shared.

I know this advice is well-meaning but I can't help thinking they're being a bit unrealistic here.

Children are notoriously unhygienic creatures and there's not a lot you can do about it.

I've been getting dirty looks in the supermarket whenever my baby sneezes. I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to do to stop her from sneezing. And a six-month-old is not capable of following Government guidelines.

The advice says: "Encourage the wiping and cleaning of hands and objects when passing round objects like musical instruments or toys."

I'm not sure whoever wrote this has ever been to a nursery before. They make it sound so civilized.

Just try to imagine a group of four-year-old boys sitting nicely in a nursery passing toy cars to each other and carefully wiping their hands after handling.

I know a lot of nurseries have installed handwash dispensers but surely it's asking too much to expect toddlers to wash between toys.

It's true, shared toys could quite easily spread the virus around. But I'm not sure there's an easy solution.

A Government spokesman said: "We are not suggesting taking all toys out of play settings, just to take care with the use of shared toys, which can be a way of spreading infection.

"This is about striking a sensible balance between continuing life as normal but also taking simple, common sense steps to protect children.

"The most important message is that parents should not take their children to play settings if the children have any flu-like symptoms."

Now there's some sensible advice. Please follow it...

Source: The Guardian