Novel coronavirus update

Hamilton Girls' High School

Novel coronavirus update

Hamilton Girls' High School

Dear Parents/Caregivers

As you will have seen in the media the situation concerning the coronavirus is being monitored closely by the Ministry of Health and Education.

This is a new virus and its specific nature is currently unclear, however it appears that you can have the virus at an early stage and not be showing any symptoms. This incubation period is currently considered to be up to 14 days. 

We ask you to continue to recognise that the health of both students and staff is a priority for us all.  I encourage you to err on the side of caution.

As always anyone who is unwell should not be at school. If you have a particular concern about your daughter, please contact Healthline at 0800 611 116 or your GP for medical advice. Healthline has translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages and they do have Mandarin and Cantonese speaking staff available.

a729afaf-4862-4ca1-ae46-87aaee62bad9.png

Coronavirus Update Friday 28 February 

Help us to keep you and everyone else safe
The Prime Minister has announced the first case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in New Zealand (see the full media release at the end of this article). The Ministry of Health has noted that although we have our first case of COVID-19, the chances of community outbreak remain low.

This case was identified because the person affected and their family did the right thing and got in touch with health authorities.

This is a good wake up call.  New Zealand has been free of the virus to date, but we knew that would not last. For now this doesn’t affect what you already are doing and the plans you and health authorities have in place. Continue to reinforce messages about hygiene practices. Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet
  • cover coughs and sneezes with clean tissues or your elbow
  • put used tissues in the bin.
Encourage staff and students to stay home if unwell.
 
We are still focused on keeping it out, and now stomping it out through track, trace and contain. It’s important we all continue to be alert but not alarmed.
 
Updated information from Health
As announced this week by the Ministry of Health, there are now two categories for travellers arriving in New Zealand:
  • Category 1 – People who have travelled from or transited through countries in category one in the last 14 days are required to self-isolate for 14 days and contact Healthline after they have left the countries. Mainland China and Iran are the two countries included in this category (with Iran added to this category on Friday 28 February).
  • Category 2 – People who have travelled from or via countries lists in category two who develop symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath should seek medical advice by first phoning Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453 or contacting their GP including phoning ahead of their visit.
As at Friday 28 February countries in this category are Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand.

Anyone who has travelled from or transited through any of the countries listed in both categories with clinically compatible symptoms should be considered a suspect of COVID-19 case and testing performed.
 
What you need to do
For you, this new information from Health should not change significantly how you are currently supporting the health and wellbeing in your school or early learning service community.
 
For any children, students or staff who have recently returned from Iran or China, they will need to go into a stay away period of 14 days (from when they left Iran or China).
 
Please continue to encourage anyone who is not well, to not attend your school or early learning service and to seek medical advice.
 
If you are concerned that someone is showing symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath, encourage them to first ring Healthline (0800 358 5453) or contact their GP by phoning ahead of their visit to explain symptoms and travel history.
 
If you have any concerns about the possibility that someone does have a communicable disease, your first step is to contact your local district health board for advice and support. Contact details for specific DHBs can be found here. If the individual with a suspected case is still in your school or service, isolate them from others, until you have received medical advice.
 
We encourage you to keep updated about the status of COVID-19 on the Ministry of Health website.

What to do if someone is confirmed with a case of the virus
We have had some questions on what schools should do if anyone in their school is diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

COVID-19 is a notifiable disease. As with other notifiable diseases, should a case be confirmed in your school your local Medical Officer of Health will take the lead. You will be notified about this by the Ministry of Health through your local district health board/public health unit.
 
If a case is confirmed in your school, you may be asked to:
  • work with Health to undertake contact tracing (for those that may have been in close contact with the confirmed case)
  • support Health to send communications out to your community or to those who may have been in close contact
  • undertake a clean of the spaces the person has occupied – our cleaning guidance will assist with you this process
  • follow any other directions by Health, which may include school closure for a period of time.
You may also like to consider:
  • how you support any student or staff member that has been confirmed with the virus, and any that are self-isolating by keeping in contact and if possible supporting any student with learning from home
  • providing clear messaging to your community that you have implemented your pandemic plan/or other protocol and are following advice from Health
  • thinking about any staff or students who are susceptible to illness and put your management plans in place
  • reinforcing messages about hygiene practices. Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence:
    • wash your hands often with soap and water before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet
    • cover coughs and sneezes with clean tissues or your elbow
    • put used tissues in the bin
    • encourage staff and students to stay home if unwell.

Ngā mihi

Marie Gordon

Principal