By Evelyn Leckie
THE outbreak of Coronavirus has forced The Kilmore International School to quarantine some of its students and staff members, following advice from the Federal Government’s Department of Health.
The school confirmed yesterday a few students weren’t able to return to Australia last weekend after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a travel ban on foreign nationals who have left or passed through mainland China.
On Saturday, Australia’s borders were partially closed to anyone travelling from mainland China while Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family, legal guardians and spouses were exempt from the restrictions.
The respiratory virus, otherwise known as 2019-nCoV, was first reported in Wuhan, China, at the end of last year and originated in animal hosts. The virus causes pneumonia and has been likened to the SARS virus.
There are more than 14,000 cases of coronavirus globally, and more than 300 people have died from the illness.
As of Sunday, there were 12 confirmed cases in Australia, four of which are in Victoria.
The Kilmore International School prinicipal Andrew Taylor said he was following the latest advice from the Department of Health.
“As a consequence, all students or staff, whether foreign or national, Australian citizen or permanent resident who returned from or via mainland China to Australia within the past 14 days are in self-isolation and must receive medical clearance before they return to school,” Mr Taylor said.
“A few boarders and staff are in self-isolation either at home or in a separate boarding house at the school.”
Mr Taylor said the school’s qualified medical team had been screening all boarding students over the weekend.
“Boarders have ongoing daily health checks at the start of the day by our professional nursing team,” he said.
“Any student with flu-like symptoms will be excluded from attending school. Any boarder with flu-like symptoms will be transferred to the Kilmore hospital for further assessment.
“Dispensers of alcohol-based antiseptic have been provided in communal areas and face masks are available from the sick bay for all students and staff.”
Mr Taylor said students who were self-isolated or at home in China would be provided with an educational work program.
“This is an online provision that student can now access for lesson plans and assessment tasks,” he said.
Mr Taylor said the school would continue to follow all relevant government advice and have further consultations with The Kilmore and District Hospital, Mitchell Shire Council and Department of Health and Human Services.
“I fully understand that the emerging and constantly evolving outbreak of novel Coronavirus may be a concern for staff, parents and students and for other residents of Kilmore,” he said.
“The safety of our students, staff, parents and all members of the local community is our highest priority.”
Parent Sanjoy Paul, also a professor at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, said he felt comfortable dropping his children off at The Kilmore International School yesterday.
“The school has taken great measures and is strictly following government guidelines,” he said.
“I would also suggest, there are concerns amongst the community at large – but there is absolutely no need to panic at this stage.
“It would be great if council could send health messages to the community – there is more fear in the community than the reality of the virus.”