A message from the Superintendent on the novel coronavirus and from Vancouver Coastal Health
January 29, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians,
I am writing about the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Schools have received many enquiries from parents who are understandably concerned about their children's health and I felt it was important to communicate directly with our families and staff.
The Richmond School District has been working closely with provincial and local health authorities to ensure that accurate information is available and that appropriate steps are being taken by the district. Public health officials continue to make it clear that the risk of this virus within B.C. remains low and all necessary precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of infection.
We know that there are significant amounts of information about novel coronavirus available online, particularly through social media. Unfortunately, much of that information is not accurate and is causing unnecessary fear in our community. It is critical that as we make decisions, we do so with information that is current, accurate and based on medical science. Please refer to the most recent updates from Vancouver Coastal Health www.vch.ca and the BC Centre for Disease Control www.bccdc.ca.
Health authorities have also made it clear that the best defense against any cold and flu virus is proper respiratory hygiene. This includes proper hand-washing with soap and water and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. The school district is committed to ensuring that soap dispensers in school washrooms are kept well-supplied and that surfaces that students touch frequently are cleaned on a regular basis. Hand sanitizer dispensers have been ordered for the main entrance to every school in our district as an additional precautionary measure. Please understand that these are all preventative measures designed to keep students and staff healthy and are in no way indications that parents should be concerned about sending their children to school.
We do ask that if your child is displaying any signs of a cold or flu, such as coughing and sneezing, that you keep your child at home. Some parents have asked that schools require students who have recently arrived from China to stay at home for a minimum of two weeks. It is important to note that schools do not have the authority to make public health decisions such as requiring students to remain at home for health reasons. If any steps were to be taken in relation to a public health concern, it would be at the direction of the Ministry of Health and Vancouver Coastal Health.
The Richmond School District prides itself on its inclusive, respectful and welcoming approach. During this difficult time, it is important to remind ourselves that now, more than ever, we need to remain united as a community, doing whatever we can to care for not only ourselves, but for each other.
Moving forward, we will remain in contact with the Ministry of Health, Vancouver Coastal Health and the Ministry of Education, and will continue to provide updates to our community as they become available.
Superintendent of Schools
我们知道，网络上有大量有关新型冠状病毒的信息，尤其是通过社交媒体广传的。不幸的是，许多这些不准确的信息正在引起我们社区里不必要的惶恐。在做出决策之际，使用最新、准确且有医学依据的信息来进行决策是至关重要的。请参考温哥华沿岸卫生局 （Vancouver Coastal Health ）www.vch.ca 和卑诗省疾病控制中心（BC Centre for Disease Control） www.bccdc.ca 的最新更新。
局长（Superintendent of Schools）
January 28, 2020
This morning, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the first presumptive positive case of novel coronavirus (known as 2019-nCoV) in BC has been identified in the Vancouver Coast Health (VCH) region. The patient is in isolation at home and poses no risk to the public. VCH Public Health is currently monitoring the patient and their close contacts.
Even with this presumptive case, the risk to residents in the VCH region and in B.C. remains low. There is no ongoing risk posed to the public, and health care staff in our region are prepared should other cases arise.
The novel coronavirus (named 2019-nCoV) causes a respiratory disease that was first reported in Wuhan, China. VCH Medical Health Officers, our provincial partners and the Public Health Agency of Canada continue to actively monitor the situation and have protocols in place to screen for infections in any returning travellers. While there have been cases identified outside of China, all of these individuals are known to have recent travel to the Wuhan area. The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to reassure the public that the risk to Canadians is low and that our public health system is well positioned to identify and manage any additional cases.
All travellers returning from the Wuhan area who do not have symptoms are being advised to monitor for symptoms for a 2 week period. At this time, reports indicate that this virus is spread only after symptoms develop. There is no reason for travellers returning from Wuhan, or other locations in China, without any symptoms to be prevented from working, going to school or attending events unless instructed to do so by Public Health. There is also no evidence that novel coronavirus is circulating in the Chinese Canadian community.
In the meantime, we are reminding everyone to follow proper respiratory hygiene etiquette during the cold and flu season. This includes proper hand-washing with soap and water, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and staying home when you are sick.
We do not recommend that the general public or staff wear masks. Surgical masks are not designed for this purpose and are unlikely to provide significant protection. There is also no need to post signage, stockpile supplies or to implement special cleaning procedures.
More information about novel coronavirus can be found on the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) website: www.bccdc.ca/about/news-stories/stories/2020/information-on-novel-coronavirus.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your local Medical Health Officer.
Mark Lysyshyn, MD, MPH, FRCPC
Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer
Vancouver Coastal Health