Provided by Tom Ulmet on February 29, 2020.

This is the fourth weekly report since the first one appeared on January 28, just before campus closings were announced.

Congratulations for implementing online study so quickly and mobilizing your teachers who in many cases are scattered among many different countries, waiting to hear a date when campuses may re-open so they can return 14 days in advance for the self-quarantine. Special thanks to Education Perfect who made their online study software available to ACAMIS members for the remainder of this year free of charge. They report that over 20 schools have taken advantage of their free offer!  Still in need of a system? Contact: tvaughan@educationperfect.com.

As the virus spreads to other countries families need to be aware of the return 14 days in advance of re-opening. However, it is possible that some provinces with lower incidents may not have that requirement. They are more likely to impose it on people returning from countries with high incidence of infection. At this point, as of Feb 27, those countries with more than 100 confirmed/new cases are Republic of Korea (1766/505), Japan (186/22), Italy (400/78), Iran (141/46). (See reference below)

It appears that containment efforts in China are working well and sooner than expected. Here are the ten provinces with the most cases as of February 27, 2020. The full list is here.
https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200227-sitrep-38-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=9f98940c_2
 

Province Daily Confirmed Cases Total Confirmed Cases Deaths
Hubei 409 65596 2641
Guangdong 0 1347 7
Henan 1 1272 20
Zhejiang 0 1205 1
Hunan 1 1017 4
Anhui 0 989 6
Jiangxi 0 934 1
Shandong 0 756 6
Jiangsu 0 631 0
Chongqing 0 576 6

People Most affected:  As mentioned earlier, the virus infects the body and rests in the lungs which causes pneumonia. The aged, infirm, smokers, those with lung problems, other diseases or weak immune systems and from poor areas are most susceptible. “Highest fatality rates are for people over 80 which is the same for all infections. There have so far been no fatalities in children. There is a significant increase in risk of males to females with highest risk in older males.” This is due to the high smoking rate of males in China. 
https://www.otandp.com/blog/what-is-the-latest-on-the-covid-19

Why Close Schools?
As previously mentioned, during SARS and other types of coronaviruses, schools in China were not closed. To date, the few children who contracted the virus were part of a family cluster. If there are no fatalities among children, why close schools this time? Dr David Owen of OT&P Healthcare, an expert in Hong Kong on infectious diseases, states, “It is important to appreciate that in epidemics we do not close schools specifically because we fear for the impact of the disease on our children. Fortunately, early data suggests that the complications of COVID-19 are not affecting children.  School closures work by reducing the spread of mild illness and other disease. This boosts the general immunity of the population and makes it less likely that any epidemic will grow.”
https://www.otandp.com/blog/coronavirus-explanation-of-public-health-measures

Regional Status Report on Campus Openings 

  • Hong Kong schools currently closed until after Easter weekend
  • Macao schools closed until further notice
  • Beijing extended through mid-March
  • Shanghai extended through mid-March
  • Other regions closed until further notice

If anyone of you have specific dates for school resumption kindly let us know. In reality, schools with air quality systems are among the safest places for children to be so we will hope this ends soon. All of the previous corona viruses before COVID-19 receded quickly as warmer temperatures arrived, by May there was little sign of them and by June they disappeared on their own. Health authorities are aware of this and recent data shows significant improvement. 

Quarantine
Be aware of the application of quarantines with returning families and staff. If the quarantine for returning people remains at 14 days and the government allows the reopening of schools, for example, on March 15, staff should already be returning by March 1. If the outbreak in other countries accelerates, quarantines may not be easily eliminated. Check with your local education bureau to be sure how they will apply the quarantine.

American Chamber of Commerce Survey
The survey results of 150 international companies was posted on February 28. This shows some major concerns on the horizon. The main points that could impact our members are:

  • Travel disruptions and reduced staff productivity present the most significant challenges for member companies; nearly one-third of respondents face increased]costs and significantly reduced revenues 
  • More than half of respondents are prioritizing staff safety over business performance; but respondents are focused on finances too – 40% are revising annual budgets and 33% are cutting costs 
  • 44% say uncertainty around the epidemic has negatively impacted their outlook regarding the bilateral relationship while over one-third maintain optimism towardthe regulatory environment 
  • More than half of respondents hope the US government will relax travel restrictions into the US; a majority are seeking further information – both on implementation of the Phase I Trade Deal and COVID-19-related business policies 

If there is a positive in the report, it is that a third expect to return to normal by the end of March:

  • Nearly one-third of respondents expect a return to normal business operations by the end of March; 12% project delays to extend through the summer

57% of those surveyed indicated a return to normal by April 30 and 23% said it is too soon to tell when normal business operations might resume. The survey did not include a question about the evacuation of employees which is of great concern to us. If they initiate cost cutting moves, they may involve relocation of expatriate staff or not bringing them back which is something for Heads to be alert to.  A full copy of the report is available at:
https://www.amchamchina.org/uploads/media/default/0001/12/2d4eedc6090762958f083af0865a94d68422f189.pdf

With online teaching underway, that pressure is reduced and we might draw from the recent data that containment efforts, however inconvenient, are working. As conditions improve enough for campuses to reopen it will be a welcomed positive sign, but things will be far from normal as some locations now struggle to find face masks, tissues and even toilet paper. Even though there are only 59 cases reported in the US, 46 of them are related to the cruise ship. Face masks are produced largely in China and exported to the US. Even though no alert has been sounded, there are no face masks to be found in the major cities because people have bought them and sent them back to HK and China.  Meanwhile, in the US, the influenza numbers and deaths continue to expand unabated with no alarm at all. 

Remember, conditions vary from province/SAR to province. Always start first with your own province authorities. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. 
 

Be safe!

  • ACAMIS Members
  • Coronavirus
  • Online Learning
  • Quarantine
  • School Closures
  • School Heads