Wuhan Novel Coronavirus Update

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

To All Parents/Guardians and Staff:

The purpose of this communication is to provide you with some information regarding the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

The safety and well-being of our students and staff is always our main priority.

We are following this issue closely, and we are working in close cooperation with our local health units. As we do when addressing all broad-based community health issues, we rely on local health authorities for advice, counsel and guidance as we move forward.

We understand, however, that there may be heightened apprehension or concern in our school communities.

We want to reassure you that:

• We are ready and able to take whatever action regional

health authorities recommend to reduce the risk to our school

communities. At this time we have been given no additional or

specific directions regarding the operation of our schools. Normal

school days and activities are in effect.

• Our schools are emphasizing with students, as we always do during the seasonal flu season, the importance of regular, thorough hand

washing and good personal hygiene.

• Our custodians always provide very thorough and effective cleaning

and disinfecting of schools. In schools with higher rates of absence due to illness, additional sanitation procedures are put in place.

• We are encouraging everyone to wash hands well and often with

soap and warm water, and use “cover your cough” techniques. This

includes coughing into your sleeve or arm.

As always, we are asking students and staff who are ill to remain at

home until they are feeling better. If you are experiencing severe flulike

symptoms, please contact a health professional.

Along with this letter, you may find further information on this issue online on our website, www.kprschools.ca, including a letter from Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer for the province of Ontario, which contains important information about the current public health response to the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

As Dr. Williams says in his letter, “Students, parents and school communities should rest assured that the province is working together in close cooperation with its partners in both the education and health care sectors to ensure the continued safety and wellbeing of students and staff.”

You may wish to contact your local public health unit for additional information specific to your communities. Several webpage links are included below. Most importantly, students who are sick should be kept home, and not attend either regular school or before/after school programs until they are free of symptoms. Together, we will work to keep our students and staff safe and healthy.

 

Sincerely,

 

Dr. Jennifer Leclerc

Director of Education

 

Ministry of Health

https://www.ontario.ca/page/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov

Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit http://www.hkpr.on.ca/

Peterborough Public Health

https://www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca/

Durham Public Health

https://www.durham.ca/en/health-and-wellness/health-and-wellness.aspx

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit

Hpepublichealth.ca

 

Please see the letter below from the Office of Chief Medical of Health, Ministry of Health

January 27, 2020

Dear school community members: Re: Wuhan novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) As you will likely know, on January 25, 2020, Ontario identified its first presumptive confirmed case for the Wuhan novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Today, January 27, 2020, Ontario has confirmed that the wife of the first case has tested positive for the virus at Ontario's public health laboratory.

The health and well-being of Ontarians, including and especially our students and school staff, is Ontario’s top priority. Students, parents and school communities should rest assured that the province is working together in close cooperation with its partners in both the education and health care sectors to ensure the continued safety and well-being of students and staff.

These presumptive confirmed cases was not unexpected and the health system’s response has ensured that the risk to the general public from these cases has been minimized. The first patient was promptly identified prior to transport to the local hospital, health care workers wore appropriate personal protective equipment, and the patient was immediately placed in isolation, where they have remained. The second case has been in self-isolation since arriving in Toronto. These presumptive positive cases do not change the overall risk to Ontario, which is still considered low.

While this issue continues to emerge, we anticipate in the coming weeks that there may be additional cases identified in Ontario, other parts of Canada, and other countries who have individuals with travel history to the impacted area or other significant epidemiological links.

Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and include a range of illnesses from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). They can cause mild, moderate or severe respiratory illness in some people. Symptoms of the 2019-nCoV include fever, cough and difficulty breathing and studies are underway to try and understand this virus better. As of today, cases of this new disease have been identified in other areas of China, Thailand, Macau, Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Taiwan and in the United States, among others. We continue to monitor this situation closely along with our local and federal public health colleagues. The 2019-nCoV virus has been identified at the same time that influenza (also known as the flu) and many other respiratory viruses are circulating in Ontario, which is common at this time of the year. The precautions to protect yourself against common respiratory ailments can also be used to help protect against coronaviruses, including 2019-nCoV.

Members of the public are advised to take the usual measures to reduce the risk of transmission of the flu and respiratory illness, which include:

• get a yearly influenza vaccination, available from clinics and pharmacies (for flu only);

• wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;

• cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze;

• if you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm; and

• if you or your family members are ill, stay home. .

Residents who return from recent international travel with history of travel to affected area and become ill with respiratory signs and symptoms such as cough and fever should report their travel history to any health professional, or emergency department staff, when they visit. Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, recently expanded monitoring protocols by making this novel coronavirus reportable to public health by a health professional so that if potential cases are identified in your area, the relevant local public health unit can quickly and effectively take all necessary measures to investigate, complete lab tests, and do case and contact management to prevent and control further spread of the infection.. Information has also been provided to hospitals to increase their screening processes for individuals who present with signs and symptoms of this new virus and have travelled to Wuhan, China. This will help ensure cases are identified promptly and actions taken to prevent its spread.

More Information can be found on the following websites: Ontario Ministry of Health:

www.ontario.ca/coronavirus

Find your Local Public Health Unit:

http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/common/system/services/phu/locations.aspx

Public Health Agency of Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html

Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisory: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories/pneumonia-china

Sincerely,

Dr. David Williams

Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health