Following the outbreak of a (new) coronavirus in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, China, confirmed cases of this disease have been recorded around the world including Australia.
The Australian Government has implemented strict public health guidelines to minimise the spread of this virus and to keep our communities safe.
The following information has been gathered from a range of sources to assist early childhood education and care services respond effectively to any possible outbreak.
Services are reminded to review their current policies and procedures related to:
- Control of Infectious Diseases
- Sick Children
- Health and Safety
And, to ensure the practices within these resources are being followed.
Childcare Centre Desktop members can search for current policies and support documents within Quality Area 2 – Health and Safety
Communicate regularly with parents and families about hygiene procedures implemented within the service to ensure the ongoing safety and well-being of children, staff, families and visitors. Up-to-date information and recommendations are available from the Australian Government Department of Health. (see links below)
What is COVIC-19
Coronaviruses (COV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness from the common cold to more severe diseases including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The COVID-19 virus is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The virus has rapidly spread from where it originated in China to other countries around the world.
Common symptoms include:
- sore throat
- runny nose
- difficulty breathing
Spread of infection- COVID-19
The coronavirus is most likely to spread person to person through:
- direct close contact with a person who while they are infectious
- contaminated droplets from an infected person to other people who coughs or sneezes, or
- touching objects or surfaces contaminated by an infectious person and then touching your mouth or face (door handles, tables).
How can we protect children and families in our service?
The best way to protect all children, staff, families and visitors to the service is to implement effective and strict hygiene and cleaning practices and urge families to closely monitor the health of their child and family.
Hand washing is a vital strategy in the prevention of spreading many infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
Services should remind families of their Sick Children Policy and their responsibility to help prevent the spread of disease by monitoring their child’s health. If their child is unwell, they are requested to keep the child at home and avoid contact with others to reduce contamination.
If their child develops any of the symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, they are to contact their GP immediately.
Hand washing procedures
To ensure the greatest level of personal hygiene, consider implementing a requirement that all parents, children and visitors to the service wash their hands as described below.
Upon arrival at the Service:
Please make sure you clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use the alcohol-based hand sanitiser as provided.
Dry hands with paper towels (supplied)
Dispose in contamination bin (supplied)
Upon leaving the Service:
Use the alcohol-based hand sanitiser for at least 20 seconds before leaving the Service.
Use of tissues
Ensure tissues are available in key locations within the Service.
Communicate coughing and sneezing techniques with children and families through the use of posters, newsletter items and modelling correct behaviours.
At all times, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a disposable tissue.
Dispose of the tissue in the contamination bin.
Do not store in a pocket or handbag.
Wash hands immediately.
Cleaning indoor and outdoor environment and resources
Ensure all staff adhere to the Health and Safety policy and procedure including the cleaning of toys and resources, handwashing, wearing gloves and appropriate handling and preparation of food.
Communication with families
Provide families with information about how your service is teaching hygiene procedures with children which may include:
- effective hand washing before and after eating and after using the bathroom
- cough and sneezing techniques using tissues or sneezing into their elbow
- not sharing drinks and food with others
- cleaning of resources and equipment with warm soapy water
Further information and resources
The Australian Government Department of Health are continually updating information about COVID-19 and have provided a range of information sheets for schools and early childhood centres, students and parents.
Check regularly for updates and guidance.
Many resources are available in Chinese and other languages to share with your families.
Links to Australian Government Department of Health
Specific State and Territory Government Information
Fact sheets and posters
Posters for Handwashing
Australian Indigenous HealthInfonet
Wash your hands poster Victorian Health
How to Handrub? Health NSW
Cover your cough and sneeze poster Victorian Health
Prevent the spread of germs Health ACT
Australian Government Department of Health (2020), Coronavirus, viewed 27 February 2020 <https://www.health.gov.au/news/latest-information-about-novel-coronavirus>
NSW Health (2020), Coronavirus, viewed 27 February 2020:<https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus.aspx>
National Health and Medical Research Council. (2012) (updated June 2013). Staying healthy: Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services.