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Deputy Minister's Bulletin - Coronavirus Update

February 6, 2020


Key Messages

The World Health Organization has declared the novel coronavirus a global health emergency; however, the B.C. Provincial Health Officer is advising that the risk is low within British Columbia and all necessary precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of infection.

The Ministry of Education is in regular communication with the Ministry of Health, the Provincial Health Officer and local health authorities to learn of public health decisions and to ensure students and employees are kept informed and safe.

The Provincial Health Officer is advising travellers who have been to Hubei province in the last 14 days to limit their contact with others for 14 days (self-isolation, stay at home) following arrival in Canada.

The Provincial Health Officer is also advising that anyone who is concerned they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of, the coronavirus should contact their primary care provider, local public health office or call 811. Translation services for 811 are available in more than 130 languages.

The Ministry of Education would ask you to ensure that no assumptions are made about the risk of students or staff based on their ethnicity.


Reducing the risk

The BC Centre for Disease Control recommends that to reduce the risk of exposure to novel coronavirus, individuals employ the same measures that are taken in relation to colds and flu:

Wash one’s hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and hot water (it is the single most effective way of reducing the spread of infection).

Practice other good hygiene habits: do not touch one’s face/eyes/mouth with one’s hands and cover one’s

mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing (ideally with a disposable tissue or the crease of the elbow).

Clean and disinfect frequently touched workspace surfaces.

Maintain good general health (eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, exercise in moderation).

Stay home if sick.

A new toll-free phone number (1-833-784-4397) has been established to answer questions from Canadians about the 2019 novel coronavirus. Service is available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Useful Links

Novel Coronavirus Q&A from HealthLinkBC:

BC Centre for Disease Control:

Government of Canada - Novel Coronavirus in China Travel Health Notice:  safety/travel-health-notices/210

Feb 6 Joint Statement from Ministry of Health and B.C. Provincial Health Officer:

Pandemic Response Framework and Planning Guidelines: 12/healthyschools/pandemic_response_framework.pdf

Decision and Communication Guidelines about BC Schools and Daycare Closures in Response to a Novel Influenza A: