State governments release information to help ECEC as Corona virus hits Australia
With the first confirmed case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) being confirmed in Australia over the weekend, state and territory governments have been quick to issue advice to early childhood education and care (ECEC) services about best practice in dealing with the threat posed by children and families returning from lunar new year celebrations.
The bulk of instances of 2019-nCoV have been reported in the city of Wuhan, in the Hubei province of China, with some instances in other Chinese cities. Cases of the virus are now appearing in various countries of the world as travellers from the region land in destination countries at some point within the 14-day incubation period.
The virus seen in Wuhan, China is called ‘novel’ because it is new. It has not been detected before this outbreak. It is likely that the virus originally came from an animal, and there is now evidence that it can spread from person-to-person.
Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath.
The latest advice, as updated 26 January, from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services is that well children or well staff members who have been to Wuhan, China, or other countries with cases of 2019-nCoV in the past 14 days, is that exclusion is NOT required unless the following applies:
– The person is a confirmed case of novel coronavirus
– The person is a close contact with a confirmed case of novel coronavirus in the past 14 days.
In the event that a child or staff member is sick within 14 days of being in Wuhan, China, or other countries with cases, the Victorian Department recommends the following action.
If the child or staff member has a fever, sweats, or chills:
- The student or staff member will need to be urgently excluded from school until reviewed by a doctor;
- Where necessary, call the student’s parents or guardian to inform them of the need to exclude the child for urgent medical review;
- If the ECEC setting is arranging transport for a child/staff member to a medical facility, call ahead to inform them the patient has been in Wuhan, China and ensure the travel history is given to the facility on arrival.
If the child or staff member has severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath:
- Call 000 and request an ambulance, and
- Inform the paramedics that the patient has been in Wuhan, China.
New South Wales Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant urged parents of children who have had contact with someone with a confirmed case of 2019-nCoV to keep their child/ren at home and monitor for symptoms, saying that “any child who has been in contact with a person confirmed as having novel coronavirus must not attend school or childcare for 14 days after the last contact with the infected person”.
NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard explained that NSW Health has processes in place to identify any close contacts of cases confirmed in Australia, and that advice about not attending ECEC or school would be provided to those close contacts. There are currently four confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in NSW.
Prevention measures are in line with best practice hygiene control and include:
- wash hands often with soap and water
- cough and sneeze into your elbow
For Victorian updates, see here, or phone the Department of Health and Human Services on 1300 651 160.
For NSW updates, see here, or phone Public Health on 1300 066 055 for advice.
For national updates, see here.