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Coronavirus: Students from China cancel trip to Jersey

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STUDENTS from a Beijing school who were due to travel to Jersey for an annual visit to Hautlieu have cancelled their trip because of fears over the deadly Coronavirus.

BaYi High School from China at Hautlieu School Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (26982923)

So far, nearly 850 cases of the disease have been confirmed, with the death toll yesterday rising to 26.

The disease originated in Wuhan, China, and the city has now been placed on lock-down, with people stopped from entering and leaving to minimise any chance of the virus spreading. Ten other cities in the country have also since done the same.

Cases are now being confirmed in the US, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong. Yesterday, Public Health England confirmed that 14 people had been tested for the virus in the UK, with all the results being negative.

And, earlier this week, Jersey doctors were issued instructions about what to do if they suspected someone of having the virus, including isolating them in a ‘negative-pressure single room’.

In a letter to all parents, Nick Falle, head teacher at Hautlieu, said he supported the decision to cancel the trip.

‘This morning I have had contact with Principal Shen in Beijing and after careful consideration his decision has been to cancel BaYi School’s visit to the UK and Jersey – a perhaps inevitable move, given the developing situation. As noted in previous correspondence, we have also been monitoring the situation closely and I fully support my counterpart’s decision,’ he said.

‘Whilst this is obviously a disappointment for the BaYi and Hautlieu communities, our shared priority will always be the wellbeing of all involved in a school exchange.

‘We now look forward to the next opportunity to collaborate with BaYi School and to experience the magic that happens when our young people get together. As always, thank you for your ongoing support of Hautlieu.’

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Hautlieu and BaYi School’s relationship began in 2011 when the two twinned. In 2014, on an annual two-week tour of Britain, the Beijing school took a day-trip to Jersey from London, with students performing dances and poetry for their Jersey counterparts and the two schools taking part in joint lessons. Previously Jersey students have visited BaYi High School, where they attended classes, took part in kung-fu lessons and stayed with Chinese families.

According to the World Health Organisation, there is no vaccine for the mutating virus, which can cause pneumonia.

When a new strain emerges that has not been identified, it becomes known as a ‘novel coronavirus’.

Coronaviruses fall within a large family of viruses which include the common cold and SARS, which killed almost 800 people during an outbreak in 2002 and 2003.

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The WHO’s emergency committee has not classed the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern.

And yesterday, members of Jersey’s medical community along with representatives from Ports of Jersey and the emergency services met to discuss the situation.

One of those who attended, Dr Ivan Muscat, Jersey’s consultant microbiologist, said: ‘We shared information about what we know about the coronavirus and what our response would be to it in Jersey,’ he said.

‘We are going to meet on a regular basis with the regularity depending on the acuity of the situation.’

Dr Muscat added that screening passengers arriving through Jersey’s ports had been discussed but the measure had been deemed currently unnecessary.

He also said that despite the intense media coverage, there had been a 3-4% mortality rate and those who had died were already in poor health.

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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