Adventist schools, aged care and churches respond to coronavirus outbreak

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Signage on entry doors to Sydney Adventist Hospital.

Seventh-day Adventist schools, aged care facilities and local churches around the South Pacific are taking proactive measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

South Pacific Division education director Dr David McClintock said the health and wellbeing of students and staff is the top priority.

“We are following the advice of the local education and health authorities—we want to be proactive without being alarmist,” Dr McClintock said.

Schools are emphasising the importance of good hygiene to students. School-related overseas travel for students and staff has mostly been cancelled or is under review. Education leaders are working on contingency plans should schools be forced to close.

Greater Sydney Conference president Pastor Terry Johnson has emailed Conference pastors, elders and treasurers with coronavirus information.

“The Greater Sydney Conference is attentively listening to advice from the state and federal government-related departments and medical professionals,” said Pastor Johnson in a Facebook post on Friday.

“We will implement [their suggestions] in a timely manner as information becomes available.”

Hand sanitiser stations have been installed in some churches. Members have been told to avoid hand shaking, but if they do shake hands to ensure they wash their hands afterwards.

With senior citizens most at risk of being severely affected by the virus, Adventist aged care facilities are working with health authorities to ensure they are as prepared as possible. Those who are unwell are urged to stay away. Protective procedures are being implemented, including at Avondale House in Cooranbong (NSW), where visitors seeking to enter the facility are having their temperature taken to ensure they do not have a fever.

On Friday, Sydney Adventist Hospital implemented restrictions on visitor access to its maternity unit, allowing only the partners of mothers to visit.

“Restricting visitor access to only the partners of mothers is a proactive precautionary measure to protect mothers and babies,” according to a statement from the San.

“Sydney Adventist Hospital has no cases of coronavirus. The hospital is monitoring the worldwide coronavirus situation in conjunction with advice from NSW Health, the Australian government and the Commonwealth Department of Health.

“This action is a complement to the screening process for all admissions that the hospital has had in place for several weeks.

“We are being diligent in constantly assessing what is happening in the community and looking at operational measures to ensure the safety of our patients, staff and visitors.”

South Pacific Division president Pastor Glenn Townend has this morning released a statement, urging church members to focus on three things: to pray, show compassion and practise good hygiene.

“As this situation continues to evolve, let’s maintain a sense of perspective and not get caught up in the hysteria,” he said. “As Seventh-day Adventist Christians, let us be beacons of light in our communities, holding fast to God’s promises and pointing people to Jesus as our source of hope in these troubling times.”