Dear Providers and Services,
As you are aware we have been liaising with our health colleagues in NSW and the Commonwealth to continue to provide you with the latest information on the Novel Coronavirus.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee have now updated their advice noting the increasing (but still relatively small) number of cases in provinces outside Hubei Province and resulting in an increased risk posed from travellers from all of mainland China (see the department’s website).
In line with this updated position as of Sunday 2 February 2020 our advice on exclusion for children and staff is as follows: Any child or staff member arriving in Australia from 1 February 2020, who has been in mainland China or transited through mainland China (not just Hubei province), is excluded from early childhood education and care services for a period of 14 days from the date they left mainland China as the Novel Coronavirus’ incubation period can be as long as two weeks. Any confirmed case of Novel Coronavirus will be excluded until they are medically cleared to return. Close contact* of a confirmed case of Novel Coronavirus will be excluded for 14 days since last contact with the confirmed case. Our previous advice remains for any child or staff member arriving before 1 February – that children or staff who were in Hubei province are excluded from early childhood education and care services for 14 days, and those who were in the rest of China are requested to not attend for a period of 14 days after leaving China. *Close contact is defined as living in the same household, 15 minutes face-to-face contact with a person with confirmed coronavirus in any setting, or sharing a closed space with a person with confirmed coronavirus for more than 2 hours.
NSW Health has processes in place to identify any close contacts of cases confirmed in New South Wales. Advice about not attending early childhood education and care services would be provided to these close contacts.
All staff and children who have returned from Hubei province in the last 14 days and those who have returned from mainland China on and from 1 February 2020 are required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. This means: If the person is sharing the home with others, as much as possible, they should stay in a different room from other people or be separated as much as possible. Wear a surgical mask when they are in the same room as another person and when seeking medical care. Use a separate bathroom, if available. Make sure they do not share a room with people who are at risk of severe diseases, such as elderly people and those who have heart, lung or kidney conditions, and diabetes. Visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home should not visit while they are in quarantine. 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.
As per previous advice, children and staff who returned to Australia more than 14 days ago and have shown no symptoms are able to return to school.
The Department of Education continues to work closely with the Ministry of Health to monitor and respond to the unfolding international Novel Coronavirus situation.
In accordance with normal protocols staff and children who are unwell with respiratory illness should remain at home until symptoms resolve.
As per the National Law and Regulations governing all early childhood education and care services, you must report outbreaks of infectious disease to: Your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055 The NSW Regulatory Authority – for reporting requirements visit the NSW Department of Education website or on 1800 619 113 (toll-free) We will continue to monitor the situation closely and keep you up to date on this matter.
Early Childhood Education Directorate
NSW Department of Education
– Monday 3 February, 2020
“The NSW Departments of Health and Education have recommended that any staff member or child who was in China, including Hong Kong, over the past 14 days should not return to work or attend early childhood education and care services this week, as the coronavirus’ incubation period can be as long as two weeks.
Staff and children who returned to Australia more than 14 days ago and have shown no symptoms should be able to return to school this week.”
– Wednesday 29 Jan, 2020