The Ministry of Education has told school hostels that they must have facilities to isolate students at risk of having coronavirus.
New advice posted on the ministry website today says hostels “may need to give consideration to the number of boarders and the facilities” they have to isolate students during their 14-day quarantine period after returning to, or arriving in New Zealand.
But Auckland student accommodation manager John Chen says the advice is “unrealistic” because hostel staff do not have protective clothing to keep safe when providing food or cleaning the rooms of students placed in isolation.
“In China they sent in 1230 medical staff [to Wuhan] because the local doctors, about 50 per cent, got sick and a few died,” Chen said.
International media have reported that one doctor, Liang Wudong, aged 62, died on January 25 after catching the virus.
The Education Ministry has advised schools, tertiary institutes and early childhood centres to ask any student or staff member who has “recently been to China or been in close contact with someone confirmed with the virus” to stay away from classes for 14 days.
Some homestay families have said that they are unable or unwilling to look after students during their 14-day quarantine period.
The ministry’s new advice says schools must make alternative arrangements for such students.
“Should homestay carers be unwilling to take a student who has returned from China until after the stay home period the school will need to find a short-term solution until the 14 days has ended,” it says.