A major health concern centred primarily in China is being taken seriously at local schools.
“The coronavirus is headlining many media outlets and while the risk to exposure is somewhat limited here in the Okanagan, it is a concern staff and parents may have,” said Maritza Reilly, the district’s communications coordinator.
In regards to the novel coronavirus, the Vernon School District is in regular communication with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and the local health authority to make public health decisions, and to ensure students and employees are kept informed and safe.
“The Ministry of Education understands that school district staff, students and communities may have questions about coronavirus,” said Superintendent Joe Rogers in a notice to families. “The Ministry will continue to be in close contact with public health officials and, with that in mind, would ask you to ensure that no assumptions are made about the risk of students or staff based on their ethnicity or travel history.”
The notice comes since misinformation regarding coronavirus is starting to circulate on social media.
“We encourage students, staff and their families to refer to official sources,” said Rogers.
In B.C., the latest official updates are located on the BC Centre for Disease Control website.
As well, a new toll-free phone number (1-833-784-4397) has been established to answer questions from Canadians about the novel coronavirus. Service is available from 7 a.m. to midnight EST.
Reducing the Risk The BC Centre for Disease Control recommends that to reduce the risk of exposure to novel coronavirus, individuals employ the same measures that are taken in relation to colds and flu:
• Wash one’s hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and hot water (it is the single most effective way of reducing the spread of infection).
• Practice other good hygiene habits: do not touch one’s face/eyes/mouth with one’s hands and cover one’s mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing (ideally with a disposable tissue or the crease of the elbow).
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched workspace surfaces.
• Maintain good general health (eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, exercise in moderation).
• Stay home if sick.
“We wish to see our families and staff staying healthy during this cold and flu season and encourage them to follow the guidelines in the letter to reduce their risk of exposure to any germs,” said Reilly.