Coronavirus Update Monday 23 March

Continuation of Education in case of School Closure ue to Pandemic COVID-19

Coronavirus Update Friday 20 March

School Letter COVID-19 Parent Information Letter

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 a 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

Pandemic Planning

This is a good opportunity to continue to sharpen and refine your pandemic planning. Please refer to our website for more information on this

If you are unsure where to start with reviewing your pandemic plan:

  • have a read through the quick guide to pandemic planning (on our website and also available as a Factsheet)
  • more detail to support your planning can be found in the full Pandemic Planning Guide. While the guide is primarily focused on influenza, there is some commonality with the coronavirus and therefore is an appropriate resource
  • there is also a pandemic template in the Emergency Management Plan that you can use if needed.

Exemptions for tertiary international students

On the advice of health officials, the government has announced it will not at this stage be implementing an exemption from travel restrictions for students in China who had intended to study in New Zealand. You will appreciate the health and wellbeing of people in New Zealand and the Pacific is paramount in making any decisions related to the virus.

Summary of key information

We are aware there has been lots of information provided over the last month to support you in managing your response to the coronavirus. Our main page to support you with information can be found here. The following summary will also assist you with quick links to navigate this more easily:

Recently added to the website

Planning for a pandemic

Planning for a pandemic

Other key websites for information relating to COVID-19 include:

Media Release

A Single case of COVID-19 confirmed in New Zealand

Date: 28 February 2020

The first case of COVID-19 is now confirmed in New Zealand in a person in their 60s recently returned from Iran.

The results of the test were formally reported to the Ministry at around 4.15 pm this afternoon.

Although we have our first case of COVID-19, the chances of community outbreak remain low.

The Ministry of Health is confident the public risk from this new infection is being well managed because of the public messaging, awareness of COVID-19 disease and our public health response to managing cases and contacts.

The patient confirmed with COVID-19 is being treated in Auckland City Hospital. They are in an improving condition in isolation, in a negative pressure room to prevent any spread of the disease.

Household contacts are in isolation as a precautionary measure. Public health officials have begun tracing the patient’s other close contacts to ensure appropriate protection measures are in place, including on the flight involved which originated in Tehran and came via Bali.

Anyone who was on the final leg of the flight, Emirates EK450 arriving Auckland on Wednesday 26 February, and is concerned should contact the COVID-19 Healthline number 0800 358 5453.

The person arrived in Auckland on 26 February and travelled home in a private car. Their family became concerned about their condition and called Healthline.

They were advised to seek medical attention and attended Auckland City Hospital emergency department that same day. All were wearing masks on arrival. As a result of the individual's symptoms and travel history, they were admitted and tested.

Two earlier tests were negative for COVID-19. A further test today using a more specific sample proved positive.

Contact tracing has started and close contacts are in isolation. Other close family contacts will also now be tested for COVID-19.

The Hospital staff involved in the patient's care are using with appropriate personal protection. District health boards have been preparing for managing cases of COVID-19.

The overall situation regarding COVID-19 internationally remains rapidly evolving with a high degree of uncertainty and we continue to recommend a precautionary approach.

New Zealand is the 48th country to have a confirmed case of COVID-19.

It is critically important that we both protect New Zealanders from the virus and play our part in the global effort to contain it.

The Ministry of Health’s assessment remains that there is a high likelihood of sporadic cases.

Keeping individuals, families and our communities safe and healthy in the current global environment requires a team effort and that's what we're seeing across New Zealand.

Healthline's dedicated COVID-19 number, 0800 358 5453 , is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

OTHER BACKGROUND

Border restrictions remain in place for anyone who has been to or through mainland China or Iran in the past 14 days.

The Ministry’s expert advisory group yesterday revised the advice to health professionals about identifying possible cases of COVID-19 by adding Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand as countries and territories of concern when assessing patients.

Anyone arriving in NZ who has visited those countries in the previous 14 days is advised if they develop symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath they should seek medical advice by first phoning Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453or phone ahead to their GP before their visit.