The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee has released a statement about COVID- 19 in children and early childhood services. They have suggested recommendations and measures put in place for services, while they continue to operate within the community during the coronavirus pandemic.
AHPPC considers early childhood services are essential and should continue to operate but with the following recommendations:
- exclusion of unwell staff, children and visitors
- reduce mixing of children by separating cohorts (including the staggering of meal and play times)
- enhanced personal hygiene for children, staff and parents
- make sure liquid soap and running water, or alcohol-based hand sanitiser is available at the entrance of the facility and throughout
- full adherence to the NHMRC childcare cleaning guidelines, in addition:
- clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces at least daily (e.g. play gyms, tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, sinks)
- wash and launder play items and toys including washable plush toys as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely
- excursions other than to local parks should be discouraged, public playground equipment should not be used
- influenza vaccination for children, staff and parents.
Alternative care arrangements should be considered for those children highly vulnerable to adverse outcomes should they be infected with COVID-19. AHPPC recommends parents seek medical advice for these children.
AHPPC has also recommended the following restrictions to be put into place for visitors and staff before entering the service:
- Those who have returned from overseas in the last 14 days.
- Those who have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
- A contact is defined as anyone who has been in contact with a known cause, including the 24 hours before the case became symptomatic.
- Those with fever or symptoms of acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath) symptoms.
- Those who have not been vaccinated against influenza (after 1 May 2020).
Emerging reports on COID-19 in children show that, while they are less likely than adults to be infected and have a severe illness, they are still vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Please note: These are only recommendations and are not mandatory for services to implement.
Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statement, Department Of Health NSW, 3 April 2020