Coronavirus tests for two GVGS exchange students

By Ed McLeish And Madi Chwasta

Two visiting exchange students to Goulburn Valley Grammar School are awaiting test results for coronavirus after being in contact with a confirmed case on a flight from Singapore to Melbourne on Sunday.

Thirteen visiting students, two visiting staff members and 12 host families are currently self-isolating in Shepparton as a precaution, after the Victorian Department of Education contacted Goulburn Valley Grammar yesterday.

Goulburn Valley Grammar principal Mark Torriero said the two students had developed a cough since the flight and had been tested at GV Health.

GV Health said the results will be known in the next 24 hours.

Mr Torriero said they were awaiting the results, and assured there was not yet a positive case at the school or in the community. He said it was not known when the results of the tests would be available.

“We are asking the students to self-isolate, and are working with the appropriate health authorities and often going beyond their recommendations,” he said.

“It is important we all maintain good health and hygiene, and good coughing etiquette.”

The visiting students and teachers from Indonesia had attended Goulburn Valley Grammar for most of the past four days.

Mr Torreiro said if the students tested negative to the virus, they would proceed with their scheduled travel back to Indonesia on Monday.

The Victorian Department of Health contacted Goulburn Valley Grammar School yesterday advising the visiting students and teachers had been in “casual contact” with a person who had tested positive for COVID-19.

An email was sent to GVGS parents last night and stated all passengers on Flight SQ237 — the same flight carrying the school’s Indonesian exchange students — were now classified as Coronavirus disease casual contacts.

In the email, Mr Torriero said he understood the developments may cause some concern.

“However, the advice from the Department of Health is that this is low risk situation,” he said.

The Department of Health recommended students and staff — other than those who had been on the flight and their host families — were not isolated, and to continue their planned activities, unless they developed symptoms. This included attending school today, as well as a planned school trip to Sydney.

Mr Torriero said the school’s assembly was postponed this morning as a precautionary measure.

A casual contact is someone who has been face-to-face for less than 15 minutes with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or been in the same closed space for less than two hours, when that person was potentially infectious.

Being a casual contact means there may be a risk of becoming infected with novel coronavirus.

Casual contacts must monitor their health until 14 days after they were last exposed to the infectious person.

Also, casual contacts must watch for signs and symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath and other early symptoms, which can include chills, body aches, sore throat, headache, runny nose, muscle pain or diarrhoea.

In the meantime, the health department recommended following normal health procedures, including good hand hygiene and coughing etiquette.

Out of an abundance of caution, GVGS is arranging for an off-site program for its Indonesian exchange students, so that they are away from school for the day.

Families seeking more information are welcome to contact the Victorian Department of Health on 1300 651 160.