Taking preventative measures, the South Pasadena Unified School District has issued a letter to parents and community regarding the coronavirus sweeping through parts of China and the world.
The Center of Disease Control (CDC) has issued its strongest travel warning yet, urging Americans to avoid unnecessary travel to China, where more than 100 people have died after getting the coronavirus. The virus, spreading from person to person, has infected more than 4,500 people.
Currently, the health risks from the virus in the United States are low, according to the CDC.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people, and others that circulate mostly among animals. Common symptoms in an infected person include a fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
“2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a coronavirus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread,” reads the letter. “However, it has now been determined that person-to-person spread is occurring, although it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC’s web page 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China.”
Since December, noted the SPUSD, Chinese authorities preliminarily identified more than 4,500 human infections, with over 100 deaths as of January 28. In addition, novel coronavirus infections have been confirmed in numerous other countries and in five travelers in the United States located in Arizona, Washington State, Chicago, Orange County and Los Angeles County.
“Despite this case in Los Angeles County, LA Public Health states that there is no immediate threat to the general public, no special precautions are required, and people should not be excluded from activities based on their race, country of origin, or recent travel if they do not have symptoms of respiratory illness,” the letter from the district reads. “Los Angeles County residents, students, workers, and visitors should continue to engage in their regular activities and practice good public health hygiene. This is the height of flu season across the Country. The risk from the novel coronavirus 2019 to spread in Los Angeles County residents is deemed to be low at this time.”
The South Pasadena Unified School District is advising parents, “as we always do, to keep your child at home if you believe him/her to be ill,” stressed the letter.” Keeping your sick child home will prevent the transmission of disease to other students and staff. If children are sent to school sick, they will be removed from class and sent home if deemed appropriate by our health staff. If you, your child, or family recently traveled to or from China, we ask that you take extra precautions and seek a medical evaluation from your doctor if you have any symptoms of illness before returning to school.”
The CDC and L.A. County Department of Public Health recommend the following:
If you or someone you know has traveled to Wuhan and feel sick:
- Stay home and avoid contact with others, except for seeking medical care.
- Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
- Do not travel while sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- If you have any questions, please contact the school district nurse, Alexandra Platz, at (626) 441-5830, Ext. 3917, or your school principal. Stay home from work and school and try to avoid errands when you are sick. This will help prevent the spread of illness to others.
- Students and staff with respiratory symptoms, including fever, cough, or sore throat, should stay home and not attend classes or participate in other group activities for at least 24 hours after the fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu and other serious respiratory illnesses, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are spread by coughing, sneezing or hands contaminated by the virus.
- Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Here is a three-minute video from the CDC about proper handwashing: https://youtu.be/eZw4Ga3jg3E
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
For more flu prevention tips, visit http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/index.htm.
“The health of our students and staff is of the utmost importance to us. If we all work together and follow these important guidelines, we can keep our students, staff, and community healthy,” reads the letter.
The school district urges residents to the information with family members and caregivers.
“We truly appreciate your partnership in this and will continue to keep you informed as more information becomes available,” concluded the letter.