Children who recently visited China are facing a delayed start to their school year as the NSW government moves to soothe classroom concerns over coronavirus infections.
Parents in NSW have been asked to keep their kids at home when school returns if their children have been in China within the past 14 days.
The federal education minister has chastised schools for suggesting students stay home, however NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the state was in a unique situation.
Frustrating that there is different advice coming from the federal government and the NSW state government on children going, or not going, to school or childcare if they’ve travelled to China recently. #coronavirus #nCoV2019 pic.twitter.com/OjnWuRZ1Qo
— Lawrence Champness (@champy) January 28, 2020
The state government announced the decision on Tuesday evening as parents prepared for their children to return to school on Wednesday.
“Ideally we would have liked to have been in a position to have made this decision earlier. It is a very difficult decision,” Mr Hazzard said.
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said he had not recommended that advice but understood why some states had made the decision.
“The health authorities as of yesterday (Tuesday) weren’t recommending that, but we are looking at new data everyday, we will be looking at our advice and updating it on almost daily basis,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.
“We understand that given the uncertainty, some state government’s have taken additional measures.”
NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the government was responding to these concerns by making the request to parents as a precaution.
“We know many in the community have wanted to see this and we are taking this step in line with community sentiment,” she said.
“We are doing everything we can, even though the risk is low, to ensure the safety of our children.”
There have been four confirmed cases of the potentially-lethal coronavirus in NSW, and one further case confirmed in Victoria.