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Covid-19: spring holiday travel risks

Private schools are assessing spring holiday travel risks from a potential killer strain of coronavirus.

Somersfield Academy said in a letter sent to parents that it was “closely monitoring the current Covid-19 situation carefully”.

The school added: “As an international school, and especially with the upcoming spring break, we are particularly assessing the risks associated with travel to affected countries.”

The letter said that further updates on travel advisories would be issued.

It also gave “general guidance on infection control and exclusion of students/staff who are infected by a communicable disease”.

The letter said: “Whenever there is doubt about the management of a particular illness, the school will seek advice from the Department of Health, the Child Health Clinic, or the epidemiology unit.

“Parents who have a concern are also encouraged to seek help from one of these contacts and/or their family physician.”

Somersfield said that any pupil who became ill should not go to school or any other childcare centre.

Sue Moench, the Principal at Mount Saint Agnes Academy, said that a letter was to be sent home today to ask parents to provide details to the school on spring break travel plans.

She added that the letter would also detail steps that were being taken to keep the school safe and a list of tips to help keep pupils healthy.

Linda Parker, the head of school at Bermuda High School, said in a letter to parents today that school trips to Japan and New York had been cancelled and the Year 6 Washington trip was under review.

Ms Parker said that parents would be notified by March 20 if the Washington trip was to be cancelled.

Ms Parker said: “We do not require family travel information at this time, but this may change as the situation demands.”

She added that the school was developing contingency plans in the event that the school is ordered closed.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health said that it was not discouraging travel during spring break — but did discourage non-essential travel to areas affect with “reported sustained or ongoing community transmission of Covid-19 and related travel routes”.

She said that travellers who had been to affected areas should be prepared to self-quarantine after they retuned to Bermuda until they had a risk assessment performed.

The spokeswoman added: “A public health officer will then assess what public health measures should be implemented based on the traveller's risk level.

“Public health measures may include active monitoring or supervision of self-monitoring by the public health authorities, or the application of movement restrictions, including isolation and quarantine, when needed.”

She said that everyone should wash their hands often with soap and water, avoid touching their face, and keep their distance from anyone showing any signs of respiratory symptoms, such as coughing or sneezing, to help combat spread of the virus. Bermuda has not imposed travel restrictions to block entry to visitors from anywhere in the world.

Steve Cosham, the National Disaster Co-ordinator, said this week that he had made recommendations to the Government about possible travel restrictions and that Cabinet would decide what, if any, measures would be adopted.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, said the same day that people who had spent time in countries considered high risk would be “given health instructions for follow up and monitoring for 14 days”.

She added: “There are Government officers at all ports of entry to assist with managing the situation and port officials are in continuous communication with the Ministry of Health's Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.”

The minister said that “experience to date” suggested that about 80 per cent of people who contracted the virus would mild or no symptoms and would not need hospital care.

She added: “Of the rest, a portion will be able to receive medical attention at home, and a small percentage may need critical care services with intensive medical management.”

Ms Wilson said that hand washing, and the use of antibacterial wipes and hand sanitisers, were the best ways to avoid virus transmission.

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Published March 06, 2020 at 11:32 am (Updated March 06, 2020 at 4:23 pm)

Covid-19: spring holiday travel risks

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