The family of boy who unknowingly brought COVID-19 to East Preston Islamic College in Melbourne’s north are devastated and shaken by the situation, according to the school’s principal.
Yesterday Victoria recorded seven new coronavirus cases as a result of the growing north side cluster, causing East Preston Islamic College and Dallas Brooks Community Primary School to temporarily shut down.
Yesterday there were 7 new cases & no loss of life reported. The 14 day rolling average is down in Melb & regional Vic, and cases with unknown source stable. There is more info here and also later today https://t.co/pcll7ySEgz #COVID19VicData pic.twitter.com/DlWYER6e9K
— VicGovDHHS (@VicGovDHHS) October 23, 2020
The cluster began after a year five boy attended school on Monday and Tuesday, then testing positive on the Wednesday. The child’s two siblings had already tested positive for coronavirus, but were cleared of the disease by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) at the time.
However, the family did not know that because he was a close contact the young boy was meant to keep quarantining, even though his siblings were cleared of virus.
As English is the family’s second language, it has prompted questions about whether the DHHS provided translators when communicating with them.
Ekrem Osyurekthe principal of East Preston Islamic College said he believed that the DHHS should have interpreters available to avoid confusion.
“The family did the right thing and brought the letter of clearance from DHHS [for the two positive children]. They’ve done nothing wrong. They did the best they can,” he said.
Osyurek also said that the child’s father was struggling with the guilt because the school had now been closed.
“I assured him that this could happen to anyone and he shouldn’t go anywhere, he should try to return to his normal life when he can,” Ozyurek said.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews rejected the suggestion that the family had not been clearly informed of the need to keep the student quarantined.
“I think that we made our position abundantly clear,” he said.
“I’ve been well briefed on this, I’m not accepting of this notion that somehow the response of our dedicated public health team was not complete or it was not done properly.
“We went to every effort and we are confident that we did communicate, but the child went to school.”
Doctor Catherine Orr has treated many COVID patients from multicultural communities and said that the DHHS had never to her knowledge used translation or interpreting services when in contact with her patients.
“They never got an SMS or letter in any other language than English. The [DHHS] certificate to release people from isolation is in English.”
Getty Images / Darrian Traynor