This week’s COVID-19 communication covers:

  1. New update as of 17.08.20
  2. Links to previous advice.

As ever the update is issued by BSA in conjunction with our partners BAISIS and ISC. BSA reminds all schools that it is not a medical, statutory or legal authority and any advice is given on that basis.

After 28 updates over seven months, most of the time weekly, this is the final regular BSA COVID-19 update. With pupils in most countries “back-to-school” from early September, future COVID-19 advice will be issued in the regular weekly newsletter, published every Thursday from August 27, 2020. However, with yesterday having yet again produced the greatest number of worldwide cases on record, back-to-school certainly does not mean back-to-normal and urgent updates may well continue to be necessary for quite some time yet. This bulletin will hopefully contain most of the links required, but a reminder that all COVID-19 advice and guidance is available on the bespoke BSA webpage.

A.1: What has changed

On the date of our first bulletin in January there had been no cases in the UK, and no country outside China had more than five reported cases. There were 2,798 cases in total. Seven months on there are 21.3 million reported cases, which will include many people reading this bulletin. World deaths reported stand at over three-quarters of a million and despite progress, a viable programme of vaccination seems some way off yet. As BSA has highlighted from the start, therefore, flexibility will be the key to success for schools in the coming months, as there is no way of predicting how matters will develop. Planning for cases in school, for accommodating pupils unexpectedly when they can’t get home, for pupils having difficulty with travel back to school and accounting for local lockdowns which affect the school will hopefully be part of everyone’s plans. It would be advisable to begin contingency planning for northern hemisphere autumn breaks; for Christmas, and (for those schools which run on a calendar year cycle) for the challenges of the “new school year” in your part of the world. 

The list of countries most badly affected remains relatively constant, but recent days have seen flare-ups in countries which had seemed to deal particularly well with the first wave, including South Korea, Australia and even New Zealand, which had gone over 100 days without any community transmission. According to the WHO, the only countries of any size reporting fewer than 100 cases in the last seven days include New Zealand, Mongolia, Thailand, Iceland, Uruguay, Jamaica, the Baltic States, Israel, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, some countries in South-East Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa. The Americas now account for 55% of the total deaths. The USA, Mexico, several countries in South America, South Africa, Iran, India, the Philippines and Italy all reported more than 100 new deaths. In all parts of the world, 27 different countries reported over 1,000 new cases yesterday, including five in Europe (Russia, Turkey, France, Romania, Ukraine). A further 21 European countries had over 100 cases, with over 600 in Netherlands, Poland, Germany and Italy. As is shown by the removal of Malta from the UK list of countries exempted from self-isolation on arrival, many smaller countries have similarly high rates of transmission. Also, some countries do not report at the weekend, and Spain also has high numbers of cases. It seems inevitable, therefore, that further countries will be removed from that list in the future, and that travel restrictions will continue to apply worldwide for quite some time. The UK seems temporarily to have stopped reporting figures to WHO, but the daily figure has climbed back over 1,000 on average. In better news, in the last bulletin only two weeks ago, the UK was averaging 65 deaths a day, and this figure is now regularly in single figures, although there was a change to the calculation methodology between those times.

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