Coronavirus prevention in school: a global concern

By Dr. Rex Casiple

Universities in the United States are preparing in advance to combat the entrance of coronavirus (2019-nCov) in their respective school campuses. Suspected students from several universities who traveled to China, preferably those who traveled to Wuhan, China where the virus originated, were tested for possible cases of 2019-n-Cov. Reports showed that there had been confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. which was considered a serious public health threat and a cause of concern.

Some universities and colleges in the US served as international hubs and home to internationally mobile students or faculty who might have traveled to affected regions in China. In line with this, planning was important in combatting the entry of 2019-nCov on school campuses. Everyone in the school premises was informed of the nature of the respiratory threat caused by the virus and how to get health care if there are signs and symptoms of the virus in them or their neighboring areas. Everyone was advised not to panic and to be vigilant always.

The Office of the President of one of the top-performing universities in the US has been working to ensure close collaboration and communication among campuses. Information and precautions dissemination on the best ways to prevent the spread of the 2019-nCov, the flu and other respiratory viruses were done for the general public.

The students in schools, the faculty, and the public were taught the common ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus by washing their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or by the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap is not available; by avoiding touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; by avoiding close contact with people who are sick; by staying at home or wearing surgical mask when sick; by covering their mouth with tissue or handkerchief when sneezing or coughing, among others.

Students who are sick or suspected to have the virus were advised to stay at home. Instructors were encouraged to help their sick students complied with their requirements in school through an alternative learning system other than classroom-based learning.

The first person-to-person spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. was in Illinois between a Chicago woman, in her 60s who had recently returned from Wuhan, China where the outbreak of the virus started, and her 60-year-old spouse. Both of them now are in stable condition. This incident heightens the fear of a broader spread of the virus; a global concern. The same person-to-person incident also happened in some other countries outside China, like Vietnam, Hong Kong, Germany, Japan and allegedly here in the Philippines.

In a very short period of time, health officials have recorded more than 20,000 coronavirus infections in China, where more than four hundred deaths in mainland China have been blamed for the virus. More cases have been seen in more than 15 countries outside China. As reported, the second fatality outside mainland China was in Hong Kong.

In the current outbreak, there have been cases of infected people displaying no symptoms. If such cases occur, it will be difficult for our medical experts or health officials to control the spread of the disease making the virus become endemic and cause more fatalities worldwide. These will not exempt our students in schools.

Therefore, just like what our school authorities have done to protect our students from Dengue fever in the previous year, they need also to have preventive measures to fight the entrance of coronavirus in school. To fight against coronavirus is a global concern and our personal responsibility. Preventing the entrance of this disease in our schools, colleges, and universities and our community is a must and shall emanate from us. (To be continued)