Kia ora koutou,
The ongoing situation with the COVID-19 respiratory virus is unsettling for people and there is some anxiety being expressed in our community, so I wanted to provide you with an update.
Many of you will be aware that three of the four cases of COVID-19 confirmed in New Zealand have had links to four school communities. It was reassuring to read in the information from the Auckland Regional Public Health Service that the children in these families are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19 and are doing well. Because the children continue to not show any symptoms, they were not infectious when they were at school and the Ministry of Health is confident there is no risk for the students and staff in those schools.
You will also be interested to know that research published by the World Health Organisation notes that children and young people under 18 account for only 2.4% of all reported cases of COVID-19. This means we are unlikely to see widespread cases in schools and early learning services in New Zealand.
The Ministry of Health’s current advice is that with continued vigilance, the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low. So we all have a role here to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
Our school staff and leadership remain well prepared for the possibility there might be a confirmed case in our community in the future, and we know that we will be supported by regional health authorities and the Ministry of Education if that were to occur.
I am sure you are all keen to do what you can to prevent the risk of infection. The best preventative steps are:
wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dry thoroughly
avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
avoid sharing anything that has come in contact with saliva, whether in your living or social environments
stay home when you are sick and seek medical attention
cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the rubbish
get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.
If you want to know more about COVID-19 please make sure that any reading you are doing is from a reliable source. The Ministry of Health is the best source of information for New Zealand and they update this information regularly - Ministry of Health site, (same information in Chinese).
Key contact number to be aware of: Healthline - 0800 358 5453
Also please remember that anyone who is ill should not be attending school.
The COVID-19 symptoms are a fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. If anyone has these symptoms and has recently been to a country or area of concern, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, please encourage them to contact Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or their doctor immediately.
You will be aware that advice from Health asks everyone to wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, making sure you dry them thoroughly. Singing Happy Birthday twice, slowly should take about 20 seconds. To assist with this messaging, there are a couple of useful videos from the National Health Service (UK) that might help teach good hand washing techniques:
In times of anxiety and uncertainty it is important that we continue to care for and support all members of our wonderful school community, especially those who may be impacted by COVID-19 in some way. We all need to remain mindful of our actions towards each other, and of how we talk about this situation around our children, remembering that they are very aware of what is going on around them, even when not directly involved in conversations.
Stay safe, follow good basic hygiene practices and call the healthline or your local medical centre if you are unsure about any symptoms you or your family may have. Please remember to call and speak with a medical professional first, rather than go into your GP or medical centre.
Have a great week.
Ngā mihi nui,