FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following update on COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) was issued today by Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health:

The health and well-being of New Brunswickers is our top priority.

Public Health would support a government decision to close schools in New Brunswick for two weeks in response to COVID-19. While we recognize the significant impact such a decision would have on families, students, schools and the entire community, this measure would help keep our residents safe.

People may still be travelling and, as the spread of COVID-19 is continuing to escalate internationally, additional measures should be considered.

Such measures should not extend to operators, staff or youth within early learning and childcare facilities at this time. The current risk assessment indicates that the risk of children acquiring COVID-19 is very low and the risk of them having serious disease outcomes is even lower. Early learning and childcare facilities operating within schools should also remain open at this time.

Daycares should screen for the virus by asking parents if their child is unwell and if they have travelled in the last 14 days.

Early learning and childcare facilities operators and staff who have travelled outside the country are asked to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days after they have returned to Canada.

Operators can access information online to guide them in implementing appropriate measures within their facilities.

Like our health-care workers, the role of early learning and child-care providers is a crucial one and I recognize their contribution to ensuring that essential services can continue to be provided to New Brunswick families.