Coronavirus changes school break plans



BLUE HILL — George Stevens Academy officials are making alternative February break arrangements for eight boarding students from China who will be unable to go home due to travel restrictions prompted by the novel coronavirus.

The novel coronavirus, which has infected over 40,000 people worldwide, is a respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Signs and symptoms of the coronavirus include fever and/or cough and difficulty breathing. The virus has been described as similar to pneumonia.

Over 1,000 people in China have died from the coronavirus, according to a report Tuesday in The Washington Post.

Also Tuesday, the World Health Organization named the virus COVID-19. That stands for the Coronavirus Disease, which was discovered in 2019, according to a press release.

The U.S. State Department on Feb. 2 issued a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” alert for China. Most commercial air carriers have suspended flights to the country.

“We have worked with our students and their families so no one will be traveling to China for break,” said GSA Headmaster Timothy Seeley. “We are making accommodations for students so if they don’t have a place in the U.S. to go, they can still be here.”

Seeley said none of GSA’s international students is from Wuhan, which is the area in China that has been hardest hit. Wuhan is in central China.

“Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread,” the U.S. CDC stated. “However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.”

Meanwhile, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Monday announced the first individual in the state is being tested for the coronavirus. The CDC stated in a press release that the risk to the public is low.

The Maine CDC is not currently releasing further details to protect the person’s privacy.

“The risk in Maine remains low,” said Nirav D. Shah, director of the Maine CDC. “This test follows protocols established by the U.S. CDC. At this point, 37 states have sent samples to the U.S. CDC for testing, and the vast majority of those tests have come back negative.”

“Right now, the best thing Maine people can do is to practice good hygiene, stay home if you feel sick and share your recent travel history with medical providers if you experience fever, cough or difficulty breathing,” said Shah.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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