St Lawrence College in Ramsgate has put in place a number of precautionary measures with immediate effect due to a staff member having recently returned from Singapore – classified as an infected area by Public Health England in respect of the Novel Coronavirus.
A letter from the head teacher has been sent to parents today to inform them of the situation.
The staff member, believed to be a sports coach, spent a short amount of time at Singapore airport during a return trip from Australia. Singapore has been added to the affected areas list for the strain of the virus which has symptoms of fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China. Nine patients in England have tested positive for the infection to date.
Likelihood of infection extremely slim
The likelihood of the St Lawrence College staff member having the virus is extremely slim. They have not shown any symptoms but have sought medical advice and gone into isolation for 14 days.
The letter to parents says although the risks are minimal the staff member has been in contact with some colleagues and students. Having taken advice the school has put in immediate precautionary measures,
These include the isolation of the male staff member and advising those who have had contact with them to seek medical advice if any symptoms become apparent.
The school has also said parents may withdraw their children from the site immediately if wished although the college will remain open until the end of the week and then reopen after half term.
In a statement Head of the Senior School, David Jackson, said: “This may appear to be an extreme response to a very low risk, but we would rather err on the side of caution, as the welfare of our pupils, families and staff is always our primary concern.”
“We will be keeping everyone updated throughout the half term period on any further developments in this situation, as well as continuing to monitor advice on Coronavirus for international pupils and parents who may have been planning to travel at Easter.”
Chances of infection are slim. In the UK the nine confirmed cases are out of 2,521 people tested.
Suspected cases of novel coronavirus were investigated last week by the East Kent Hospitals Trust with admissions understood to include one initially at QEQM Hospital in Margate on February 8. There is no indication that any of the cases proved positive,
As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.
The risk to individuals remains low
Based on the World Health Organisation’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate. This permits the government to plan for all eventualities. The risk to individuals remains low.
The UK Chief Medical Officers are advising anyone who has travelled to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and is experiencing cough or fever or shortness of breath, to stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if symptoms are mild.
These areas have been identified because of the volume of air travel from affected areas, understanding of other travel routes and number of reported cases. This list will be kept under review.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has announced strengthened legal powers to forcibly isolate those with suspected coronavirus. The regulations have been put in place to reduce the risk of further human-to-human transmission in this country by keeping individuals in isolation where public health professionals believe there is a reasonable risk an individual may have the virus.
The Chief Medical Officer.for England, Professor Chris Whitty, said:: “One further patient in England has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of cases in the UK to 9.
“This virus was passed on in China and the patient has now been transferred to a specialist NHS centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London.”