Childcare centre shutdown over virus fears: 17 kids tested


CHILDREN and families from a childcare centre in Sydney's northern suburbs are undergoing testing for the coronavirus over fears they were exposed during a visit to a nearby aged care facility.

Banksia Cottage is being assessed by health authorities after a group of children visited a nearby aged care facility where two people have contracted the coronavirus.

Reports today suggested the childcare centre in Macquarie Park was closed to its 90 students after multiple members of staff became unwell, according to Nine News.

However a spokesperson for Macquarie University, who operates the childcare centre, told the centre will continue to operate as normal as NSW Health assesses the situation.

The childcare centre, Banksia Cottage, is within metres of aged care facility BaptistCare where a nurse was confirmed to have contracted the virus.

A 95-year-old woman who was a resident at the aged care facility died from coronavirus after catching from the nurse.

Banksia Cottage has been closed down over fears staff have contracted coronavirus.
Banksia Cottage has been closed down over fears staff have contracted coronavirus.

Banksia Cottage is a 90-place centre managed by Campus Life Children's Services at Macquarie University. The childcare centre is on the Macquarie University campus.

"Macquarie University childcare centres Banksia and Gumnut recently visited the BaptistCare Aged Care facility in Macquarie Park," a spokesperson for Macquarie University told in a statement.

"A small number of cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed by NSW Health at the Aged Care Facility. NSW Health has advised there is currently no need for either Banksia or Gumnut childcare centres to close and they will continue to operate as normal.

"At this stage no children from either childcare centre have presented with symptoms of COVID-19. The centres remain in close contact with parents and NSW Health regarding any recommended next steps."

An outbreak of an alarming respiratory illness at the centre was brought to the attention of health authorities, NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said today.

Dr Chant said there was a possibility children from the centre had visited residents from the nearby aged care centre.

"We have good records, we were alerted to the fact that there had been an outbreak of illness at the childcare centre and that was brought to our attention in a variety of ways, but also one of the staff members and the partner of the staff member had developed a respiratory illness," Dr Chant said.

"Last night we arranged testing of that specimen and the testing was conducted overnight, and that test has come back negative."

Dr Chant said children from the centre visited the aged care centre on February 24, but the nurse who has the virus was not working that day.

Seventeen children visited the aged care home.

Dr Chant said families and their children would be invited to a clinic tonight to get assessed.

"We had already reached out to the attendees at the workshop that was conducted, and we are now just actively following up, pleasingly the 14 days have passed and so if we do not detect any cases in that group, and we are recontacting everyone who attended that workshop at the same time, we will be able to rule out any ongoing risk."

Dr Chant said the children and families from the centre are now being assessed to "both allay community anxiety but also to absolutely rule out any link between the two events".

Health Minister Brad Hazard addressed the possibility of a cross contamination between the aged care centre and the childcare centre.

"I understand that there was a group of children from a nearby centre who attended, I think, about the last week of February, and there was some suggestions publicly that in some way those children might have either brought in the virus or perhaps got the virus," Mr Hazzard said today.

"But there is no indication at the moment that has necessarily been the case."

More to come