A New South Wales study into the spread of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus in schools has found that there is no evidence students have transmitted COVID-19 disease on to teachers or staff in the Australian state.
The NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, Sarah Mitchell, said the report provides further information for schools as they begin planning for students to return to the classroom.
“We know that COVID-19 has created some anxiety for parents, teachers, and school staff, however the findings in this report confirm existing health advice that schools remain open and are safe for students to return,” Mitchell said.
Established by the Australian federal government, the National Centre for Immunisation Research and surveillance (NCIRS) conducted a virus tracking investigation across 15 schools—10 high school and 5 primary schools—in NSW between March 5 and April 3.
The NCIRS used a total of 18 people who previously had tested positive for COVID-19 disease, of which 9 were students and 9 adults. Data of the people they spent over 15 minutes of face-to-face contact with or two hours in the same room was identified. Across the 15 schools, a total of 863 were identified as close contacts.
Only two of the close contacts tested positive for the disease. Both of the secondary cases were students; one was diagnosed by swab testing the other via antibody testing.
The COVID-19 in schools study (pdf) is awaiting peer review.
The data gives an insight into the lower rate of infection compared to other respiratory infections among children. In contrast with influenza, data from COVID-19 disease indicates that children are not the primary transmitters.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he is keen to see schools open again.
“I want to see kids back at school and I think when we can achieve that and go into classrooms and learning again, that is something I’m very much looking forward to and we’re making a lot of progress towards that.” he said
Schools to Re-Open
On April 21, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that schools will open for one day a week for students, starting next term from May 11.
“We know that nothing is more important than a child’s education, and we must begin to return our students to their classrooms in a considered way,” she said.
“Under these changes, from week three of Term 2, every student will be attending school for one day a week.
“We will look to increase the number of days students are at school in a staged way and hope to have all children back at school full-time by Term 3.”
Studies Find Low Rates of Infection Among Children
Data from international studies have found that there are low rates of COVID-19 infection among children, presenting preliminary evidence that there is limited spread among children as well as low transmission from children to adults.
A Report of the World Health Organisation and China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (pdf) cites tests conducted in Wuhan at the early stages of the CCP virus outbreak which support this finding. The CCP virus is commonly known as the novel coronavirus. A lot of controversy surrounds reports from the CCP, which has censored its own medical community from reporting on the virus. Experts have also highlighted the CCP’s efforts to cover up the epidemic, and their underreporting on the number and severity of cases.
Conclusions of a similar vein were made in Iceland. From a population test of up to 10,000 people, children under 10 and females had the lowest instances of the CCP virus.
Studies in the Netherlands have also noted a similar trend where the CCP virus is reported to spread at a much lower rate among children.
As of April 24, the state of NSW has conducted tests on up to 200,000 people for the COVID-19 disease. A total of 1.5 percent or 2,994 have come back positive. Of those, a total of 73 percent or 2,193 have reportedly recovered. A total of four percent of reported cases are people under 19-years-old.