Australia

Coronavirus study finds schools are safe for teachers and students

School material and a face mask as children plan to resume school in some countries around the world. Source: ABACA

A study of the NSW school students and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 found an "extraordinarily" low rate of transmission in schools.

There is no evidence students at NSW schools have infected staff with the coronavirus, according to a study cited by the federal government in its push to reopen schools.

The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance probe looked at all 18 cases of COVID-19 found in NSW schools.

Researchers tracked the nine teachers and nine students along with their 863 close contacts.

They found only two additional cases of COVID-19, both students.

"Our investigation found no evidence of children infecting teachers," the chief investigator Professor Kristine Macartney told The Sun-Herald.

"We have seen an extraordinarily low rate of transmissions in schools," Prof Macartney said.

The federal government is increasing pressure on the states to return schools to normal as soon as possible, while jurisdictions continue to take a range of approaches.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison gives a coronavirus update.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison gives a coronavirus update.
AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday said the government's medical advice confirms social distancing requirements do not apply to classrooms, clearing the way for students to return to school.  

While Australians have been told to keep 1.5 metres apart, or two arms' lengths, Mr Morrison said the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) had determined students did not need to abide by that advice in the classroom.

"The advice cannot be more clear than that. The 1.5 metre in classrooms and the four-square-metre rule is not a requirement of the expert medical advice in classrooms," Mr Morrison told reporters after a meeting of the national cabinet. 

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

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