As the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak spreads from country to country, a monitoring cell has been set up at Office of Births and Childhood, ONE, and recommendations have been sent to creches, schools and child care services, the Wallonia-Brussels Minister for Children and Health, Bénédicte Linard, said on Friday.
The ONE sent a first letter containing recommendations on Covid-19 on 21 February to childcare facilities and crèches to inform them and enable them to inform parents in turn.
With the end of the school holidays fast approaching, and as the situation regarding the virus evolved in Europe, a new letter was sent of Thursday to the childcare facilities, crèches and school health services, PSE.
The letters are based on recommendations made by public health authorities. They state that if the child has not shown any symptoms, no isolationary measures are to be taken. The child can therefore go to the school or creche as normal and does not need to be tested.
If one of the parents or another person closely associated with the child is a confirmed Covid-19 case, the child needs to remain isolated at home and the family’s doctor needs to be contacted.
The length of confinement will be determined by the medical inspector of the regional infectious-disease monitoring service.
If a child has returned from an affected area, ONE requires childcare facilities, schools and parents to be on the alert for possible symptoms related to Covid-19, such as fevers, coughing or difficulty breathing, during the first two weeks after the child’s return.
Finally, if the child comes back from an area where there is a Coronavirus outbreak and shows symptoms or falls ill within 14 days after his (her) return, the parents need to keep the child at home, contact the family doctor by phone and explain where the child had travelled to and what the symptoms are.
The family doctor will then be able to assess the situation and take appropriate measures.
In such cases, the school or facility concerned has to inform its designated doctor (or ONE health representative) so that any necessary measures can be taken within the establishment in agreement with AVIQ – the Walloon agency for quality of life, in charge of promotion and prevention in the area of health – or COCOM (Common Community Commission) in Brussels.
In its letters, the ONE also reminds the school health services and childcare facilities that it is important to provide information on the usual rules to be followed to protect oneself from viruses, such as washing one’s hands and covering one’s mouth when coughing.
For additional information and updates on the evolution of the situation, parents are invited to go to www.info-coronavirus.be.
“We need to be vigilant, reassure and disseminate information widely on the recommendations to be followed in schools, childcare facilities and creches to be able to take adequate measures where necessary.”