09 Mar COVID-19 Update
Many parents and caregivers will be aware that three of the cases of COVID-19 confirmed in New Zealand have had links to four school communities. We appreciate that this will be unsettling for some of you, particularly as one of the cases is in the wider East Auckland area. As a result, we wanted to provide you with an update.
It was very reassuring to read 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, or for any of our students who have been at those schools or in contact with students from 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 to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
Our school staff and leadership team remain well prepared for the possibility of a case in our community. If that were to occur, we are confident we can put our plans into action and know that we will be supported by regional health authorities.
We are fortunate that our digital environment means that any student that is away from school or needs to self-isolate can continue with their learning. Teachers already make use of the Google classroom application and students can complete class work even if they are away.
At this stage everything at school is “learning as usual”, however we are increasing vigilance around students who are sick and ensuring they stay at home, (even this is usual practice).
We all have a part to play in preventing 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 would like 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 HERE.
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 has been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, please encourage them to contact Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 (or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or their doctor immediately.
One of the disturbing things to come out of the cases so far has been the level of bullying and hysteria. We ask that people not make assumptions about those students who might be absent from school, or spread misinformation about the disease!
Scientists are working collectively and globally to quickly understand COVID-19. There has also been some significant research published recently by the World Health Organisation-China Joint Mission. So what we now know about COVID-19 is:
- At this time the vast majority of people in New Zealand have no risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19
- 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
- New Zealand currently has very few cases of COVID-19 and no evidence of sustained person-to-person transmission in our communities
- Although asymptomatic infection (people with no symptoms) has been reported, there is emerging evidence that this is rare and not a major driver in spreading the infection
- Spread happens through coughing and sneezing by someone confirmed with COVID-19 – similar to the way that influenza spreads
- “COVID-19 does not transmit as efficiently as influenza, from the data we have so far. With influenza, people who are infected but not yet sick are major drivers of transmission which does not appear to be the case for COVID-19” – Director General of World Health Organisation (WHO)
If someone is confirmed with COVID-19 infection:
- 80% of confirmed cases of all ages have mild to moderate symptoms
- 6.1% of all cases are treated as critical – most of these people have other health conditions
- If a child or young person does get confirmed with the case, 97.5% will get mild to moderate symptoms only (0.2% critical)
- Recovery time (median) from onset to recovery in mild cases is 2 weeks. For severe and critical cases it is 3-6 weeks
- COVID-19 isn’t easily transmitted – and in China research shows it is largely occurring in families (75% – 85% of clusters occur within families), not in the community
- Again in China, early studies suggest that less than 10% of family members of confirmed cases, have been infected with COVID-19
- The people most affected are those over 60 years of age, and those with underlying conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and cancer
- As with other illnesses such as flu, the highest mortality rate is in those over the age of 80
We will be keeping parents and caregivers up to date over the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, if you are concerned about your child, please contact his/her Dean.
Michael Williams, Principal