Victoria has had its first school shutdown after a teacher was diagnosed with coronavirus.
Carey Baptist Grammar School in Melbourne will be closed to staff and students today, initially sparked by fears over symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
But principal Jonathan Walter confirmed this morning the teacher tested positive to the illness overnight.
“The health and safety of our community is our first priority,” Mr Walter wrote in an email sent to parents last night.
“Carey has been in contact with both the Department of Health and the Department of Education to ensure we have the latest information and advice.
“Based on this advice, Carey has made the decision to close the whole school for the day on Tuesday while we assess the situation.”
The Herald Sun is reporting that at least two students are being tested for the virus after the teacher’s diagnosis.
The teacher had been in direct contact with someone confirmed as having the coronavirus.
The school is now working with the health department to map the potential spread of the virus.
Carey Grammar is the fourth school to shut down in Australia due to the widening coronavirus crisis; the other three being in NSW.
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St Patrick’s Marist College in Dundas in western Sydney and Willoughby Girls High School on Sydney’s north shore are the others closed.
Epping Boys High reopened yesterday after closing on Friday when a Year 11 boy tested positive.
Temporary school closures are likely to become the norm across the country as the nation tries to batten down the hatches.
“School closures, I think, will become the norm as we go ahead, but we are doing everything we can to keep our children safe,” Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan told Nine’s Today program.
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The minister was asked why schools were being closed for a day or two, while people with or suspected of having the virus were being told to self-isolate for two weeks.
“The schools have been closed for a day so they can be thoroughly cleaned,” he replied.
“That is the best medical advice that we’re being given at the moment. Now, if that changes and it says that schools need to close for longer, then schools will close for longer.”
Two Year 10 students from St Patrick’s Marist College and a Year 7 pupil from Willoughby Girls High School were confirmed to have COVID-19 yesterday.
The fathers of the St Patrick’s students and the mother of the Willoughby student had previously tested positive for the virus.
Across the country, 100 people have been confirmed as having the virus.
More than half of the cases are in NSW.
Three elderly people have died so far.
Across the world, there have been more than 110,000 confirmed cases and more than 3817 deaths in 105 countries.
Meanwhile, the Australian government is weighing its response after Italy declared a countrywide travel ban for its 60 million-strong population due to the spread of the virus.
“This is obviously a very significant development,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said this morning.
“It just reflects the uncertainty and the seriousness of the spread of the coronavirus.”
Italy declared the expanded travel ban more than a month ahead of the busy Easter holiday season when millions of international and domestic tourists usually flock to Rome and other major cities like Venice and Florence.
The federal government continues to advise travellers to Italy to “exercise a high degree of caution” and cautions they will be subject to health screening upon their return.