Coronavirus Prevention in School: A Global Concern (Part II)

By Dr. Rex Casiple

To fight against the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease (2019-nCoV ARD) is a global concern and our responsibility. Preventing the entrance of the disease in our schools, colleges and universities and our community is a must and shall emanate from us.

As of February 9, 2020, reports from Beijing, China showed the number of confirmed infections in coronavirus outbreak has reached 37,198 nationwide from 20,438 on February 3 (82% increase), and around 811 deaths from 420 on February 3 (91% increase). There was a shortage of hospital beds, equipment, and materials. Hence, officials in some parts of China were looking to convert hotels and schools into treatment centers. The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a global strategic preparedness and response plan in the threat of the worldwide spread of 2019-nCoV. The goal is to stop further transmission of the virus within China and to the other countries and to mitigate the impact of the outbreak in all countries.

In Australia, 7 people have been identified to have coronavirus infection. Hence, Australian students upon their return to school were informed on the coronavirus outbreak which originated in Wuhan, China and spread to at least 27 countries. As per advice from the government, any child in Australia who had visited any part of China in the last two weeks or had been in contact with an infected person from China be temporarily excluded from school for 2 weeks. This started when the chief medical officer in Australia directed people who had traveled from Hubei province or have had contact with someone suspected or confirmed to have a case of coronavirus to stay at home for 14 days. There have been less than 10 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Australia but the government has implemented strict quarantine strategies to ensure they don’t infect others. School authorities are concerned about the children who are often close contact with each other and less likely to adhere to the public health messages.

In Germany, the research minister said she expected a vaccine for coronavirus to be developed within months. The announcement was made after a biopharmaceutical company and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) were working together to develop a vaccine against the virus.

In the Philippines, the Department of Education (DepEd) regarded the coronavirus as a serious concern that needs to be closely monitored and prevented to enter the school campuses. The DepEd has been coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) officials for the implementation of DOH guidelines against the possible infection caused by coronavirus in the community. Furthermore, the DepEd officials in affected regions were called to cooperate with the DOH teams engaged in the task of tracing individuals who were in contact with and may have been exposed to the coronavirus confirmed patient. On a general level, the DepEd extends efforts to promote awareness and precautionary measures for schools and their immediate communities, using the information materials from DOH.

On February 4, 2020, the DepEd issued DepEd Memorandum No. 15, series of 2020, re: “First Set of Policy Directives of the DepEd Task Force NCov.” This memorandum followed the issuance of DepEd Memorandum No. 11, s. 2020, re: “Creation of Task Force for the Management of Department of Education Response to Novel Coronavirus Acute respiratory Disease.” The memorandum declares that the DepEd regards the 2019-nCoV ARD as a matter of serious and urgent concern, and supports the overall efforts of the Philippine government to manage this public health situation.

(To be continued)