Northern Health says coronavirus risk to British Columbians low in a letter to parents and guardians earlier this week.
The letter dated Feb. 11 by Northern Health Dr. Raina Fumerton, acting chief medical officer for the northwest, gave some advice and recommendations to families in regard to coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
“The highest number of infections continue to be reported from Hubei Province, China. There have been a small number of cases of 2019-nCoV in B.C. which are being very closely managed. The risk to British Columbians remains low,” Fumerton wrote in the letter.
As their knowledge of the virus continues to grow, the agency is using new information to adjust their public health recommendations. She said the agency is now aware that the virus can cause a range of mild to severe symptoms and it is possible that people will not recognize symptoms that are mild.
“During this time they can reduce the chance to spread by limiting contact with others.”
On the basis of the above, Northern Health recommends the following:
- Students or staff returning from Hubei Province, China consider staying home for 14 days after they left Hubei. They should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough. Parents should assist children as needed. Those who develop symptoms should stay home and call their health-care provider or 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up.
- Students or staff who have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with 2019-CoV consider staying home for 14 days after their last encounter. Those who develop symptoms should stay home and call their health-care provider or 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up.
- Students or staff who have been in other parts of China, outside Hubei, should monitor themselves daily as well. Follow the same steps as above for staying quarantined and calling a health care provider to discuss follow up or testing.
For students who need to stay at home, there will be distance learning opportunities made available to them, or they will catch up once they return to school, stated the letter.
Don’t make assumptions about the risk of students and staff based on their ethnicity or travel history. The Ministry of Education is working with public health officials to pass this message.
As for travel, the Government of Canada has advised the public to avoid non-essential travel to China. So even though it isn’t necessary to cancel any class outings, it may be a good idea to avoid any non-essential travel to China.
Lastly, should your child wear a mask? Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said masks are worn when you are sick, so as to prevent us from passing on an illness to other people.
“But if you are not sick, we do not know if wearing a mask will prevent infection, especially for children who may not be able to wear a mask properly.”
“People wearing a mask may also touch their faces more often, potentially increasing the risk of having the eyes, nose or mouth come into contact with the virus.”
A new toll free phone number, 1 833 784-4397 has been established to answer questions from Canadians about the 2019 novel coronavirus. This service is available from 7 am to midnight.
Further information about the virus is also available on the BC Centre of Disease Control website.