NSW issues updated information about COVID-19 as global cases spike
The New South Wales Department of Education has released an update in relation to the COVID-19 (previously referred to as Coronavirus). In particular, this advice adds requirements for children or staff who have recently been in Iran.
While only a small number of COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in NSW with no community transmission at time of print, the NSW Education Department took the measure of releasing the update in response to increasing numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases overseas, amidst community concerns about the possible development of an international pandemic.
In addition, the Department reminded early childhood education and care (ECEC) services that, per the National Law and Regulations, they must report outbreaks of infectious disease to:
- A local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055
- The NSW Regulatory Authority – for reporting requirements visit the Notifications and Reporting page or on 1800 619 113 (toll free).
Effective 1 March 2020, the Federal Government has issued a travel ban on foreigners coming to Australia from Iran. Only Australian citizens and permanent residents coming from Iran will be allowed entry to Australia, and from 1 March such individuals are required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days after departing Iran, consistent with the restrictions for those entering from China.
The updated advice from the NSW Government for parents, services and affected staff is:
- Any student or staff member who has been in, or transited through, mainland China (not just Hubei province) or Iran is excluded from work, school or childcare services for 14 days from the date they left mainland China or Iran (as the COVID-19 incubation period can be as long as two weeks).
- Any confirmed case of COVID-19 will be excluded until they are medically cleared to return.
- Close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be excluded for 14 days since last contact with the confirmed case.
The NSW Ministry of Health has processes to identify any close contacts of cases confirmed in Australia. Advice about not attending early childhood and childcare services would be provided to these close contacts by the Ministry of Health, a Department spokesperson said.
In accordance with normal protocols staff and children who are unwell with respiratory illness should remain at home until symptoms resolve.
Maintaining good hygiene standards is an important way to reduce the risk of acquiring and spreading respiratory infections, a spokesperson said, reminding ECEC services to provide appropriate handwashing soap and enforce correct hand washing which is the single most effective way to reduce the spread of germs that cause respiratory disease.
“We appreciate the complexity that changes in advice can have in the management of your early childhood education and care services and thank you for your leadership at this difficult time. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and keep you up to date on this matter,” a spokesperson said in closing.