Wed | Apr 8, 2020

Hanover school urged to set up COVID-19 protocol

Published:Tuesday | March 10, 2020 | 12:25 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Kareen Miller, regional food-safety coordinator at the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), has called for teachers and students at Bethel Primary and Junior High School in Hanover to develop a protocol to deal with the potential outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Amid widespread fears and false information being bandied about on social media, Miller said the need for accurate coverage of COVID-19 disease should not be overemphasised, especially with the rapid rate of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 globally. She urged that special focus be placed on the information and instructions disseminated by the Ministry of Health & Wellness.

In her presentation, Miller outlined the main symptoms of COVID-19, adding that the disease was spreading rapidly through person-to-person contact and was on the verge of being declared a pandemic.

“Teachers, if children come to school with coughing, sneezing and shortness of breath, one or a combination of all three, you should by now have a plan of action at the school, where you have a room that you would isolate them in.

“Once you find them, you put them in that room. You call the parent and you call the health department,” advised Miller.

The regional food-safety coordinator said further that health department personnel would be the first responders. She said it will take all the necessary corrective action towards suspected cases.

With the Ministry of Education pledging allocations of between $30,000 and $50,000 for the purchase of sanitising agents within schools, the board of governors of Hopewell Primary and Junior High invited Miller to advise the school population on measures to avoid contracting the virus.

Although Hopewell was the first such institution to be addressed by Miller, she told The Gleaner that grade one public-health inspectors and health education officers, under the WRHA’s public education programme, were tasked to interface with the schools across the region. She said that over the last two weeks, more than 300 people in tourism establishments, churches, and other community groups across the region have been educated on the disease.

Kadian Ellis, chairman of Bethel Primary and Junior High board of governors, said that she would be lobbying for similar educational interventions at parent-teacher association meetings.

“The best way to prevent the spread of the disease, if it ever gets here, is by making everyone fully aware and cognisant about how to identify the signs and the steps to take to avoid being infected,” said Ellis.