Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Posted 04/02/2020

Information for Parents

An outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in late December 2019.

On 1 February 2020, the Australian Government updated advice for people who have recently returned to Australia from mainland China based on the latest and best medical advice.

Can my child attend School or Early Childhood Centres?

In the following scenarios your child can not attend school or early childhood centres:

• If your child has travelled from Hubei Province within the past 14 days, you must isolate yourself and child until 14 days have elapsed after leaving Hubei Province.

• If your child has left, or transited through, mainland China on or after 1 February 2020 you must isolate yourself and child until 14 days after leaving China.

• If your child has been in close contact with a confirmed case of novel coronavirus, you and your child must isolate yourself for 14 days after last contact with the confirmed case.

In the following scenarios your child can attend your school or early childhood centres:

• Students who have travelled from other provinces of mainland China (and have not been in Hubei province) who arrived prior to 1 February 2020.

• Students who have only been to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

By way of example,

• if someone left the city of Wuhan in Hubei Province on 22 January 2020 he/she is required to isolate until 6 February 2020.

• if someone left Shanghai on 28 January 2020 and comes to Australia via another country on 3 February 2020, he/she would not be required to isolate (as he/she left China before 1 February 2020).

• If someone left Beijing on 3 February 2020 and arrived in Australia the same day, he/she would be required to isolate for 14 days, until 17 February 2020.

If you or your child develop symptoms (listed below) within 14 days of leaving anywhere in mainland China or within 14 days of last contact with a confirmed case of novel coronavirus, you should arrange to see your usual doctor for urgent assessment. You should telephone the health clinic or hospital before you arrive and tell them of your travel history or that you have been in contact with a confirmed case of novel coronavirus. Your doctor will liaise with Public Health authorities to manage your care. You must then remain isolated either in your home or a healthcare setting until Public Health authorities inform you that it is safe for you to return to your usual activities.

What does isolate in your home mean?

People who must be isolated should not attend public places, in particular work, school, childcare or university. Only people who usually live in the household should be in the home. Do not allow visitors into the home. There is no need to wear masks in the home. Where possible, get others such as friends or family, who are not required to be isolated to get food or other necessities for you. If you must leave the home, such as to seek medical care, wear a surgical mask if you have one.

What is this virus?

Coronaviruses can make humans and animals sick. Some coronaviruses can cause illness similar to the common cold and others can cause more serious diseases, including Severe Acute

Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

The virus seen in mainland China is called ‘novel’ because it is new. It has not been detected before this outbreak. Most people currently infected live in, or have travelled to mainland China.

There have been some cases of 2019-nCoV reported in other countries. It is likely that the virus originally came from an animal, and there is now evidence that it can spread from person-toperson.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include (but are not limited to) fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath.

What if my child is sick now or within 14 days of being in mainland China?

If your child develops mild symptoms:

• call your usual doctor or local hospital and tell them your child may have novel coronavirus infection; and

• when you get to the doctor’s clinic or hospital, tell them again that your child may have novel coronavirus.

If your child has serious symptoms such as shortness of breath:

• call 000 and ask for an ambulance; and

• tell the paramedic that your child may have novel coronavirus infection.

• your doctor will test your child for 2019-nCoV and provide advice on management. You will also be contacted by Public Health officers who will provide you with more information.

Students with symptoms must be excluded from attending schools and early childhood centres. If they have been diagnosed with 2019-nCoV students may not attend school or childcare until public health authorities inform you it is safe for them to return to their normal activities. If students have other respiratory illness (i.e. flu), they should not attend school irrespective of whether there is a concern about 2019-nCoV.

 How can I help prevent the spread of 2019-nCoV?

• teach and encourage your children to wash their hands often with soap and water before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet;

• avoid contact with others by keeping children home if they are unwell;

• teaching children to cough and sneeze into their elbow; and

• while it’s not possible to avoid touching, kissing, and hugging children, parents and guardians should do their best to follow these steps too.