Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV): latest advice

The following advice was issued by the University on Friday 31 January 2020. It contains new guidance. This update supersedes all previous guidance.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

NB: Please note this article has been superseded with new advice and guidance issued from the University on Friday 7 February.

Information about the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new strain of virus first identified in Wuhan City, China. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

Based on current evidence, novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) presents with flu-like symptoms, including a fever, a cough or difficulty breathing. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild. Those who have died in Wuhan appear to have had pre-existing health conditions.

On Thursday 30 January 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a public health emergency of international concern. In light of that declaration, the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from ‘low’ to ‘moderate’.

In a statement released on Thursday 30 January, they say this does not mean that they think the risk to individuals in the UK has changed at this stage, but that government should plan for all eventualities. Public Health England advice for travellers from Wuhan remains unchanged.

The new virus is understood to have an incubation period of up to 14 days (at Leeds, the vast majority of taught students will have been in the UK since before the start of Semester 1 examinations on Monday 13 January).

Advice for staff and students who have recently returned from Wuhan and Hubei Province

As a ‘highly precautionary measure’, the UK Government has now issued the following advice to individuals who have arrived from Wuhan or Hubei Province in the past 14 days:

If you have returned from Wuhan or Hubei Province in the past 14 days:

  • stay indoors and avoid contact with other people, as you would with other flu viruses; and
  • contact NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel.

Please follow this advice, even if you do not have symptoms of the virus.

If you develop a fever, difficulty breathing or a cough, you should continue to follow the advice above. Please do not leave your home until you been given advice by a clinician.

All members of the University (staff and students) and academic visitors, who have travelled here from Wuhan or Hubei Province in the past 14 days, should follow this advice by isolating themselves so far as possible for 14 days after the date of their arrival in Leeds. They should avoid close contact with other people as much as possible, and in particular they should not come to lectures and classes and they should avoid public places.

Any individuals isolating themselves in this way may resume normal University and social activities at the end of the 14-day period, provided that they have not developed a fever, difficulty in breathing or a cough (in which case they should contact NHS 111, as advised above).

You should inform your school if you are isolating yourself in accordance with the above advice. Staff (and academic visitors) should do so by e-mailing their head of school. Students should contact their School Student Support Office and, if they live in University accommodation, should also inform the hall warden or equivalent.

Appropriate arrangements will be made to provide necessary pastoral and practical support for students who isolate themselves as a result of following the above advice. Similarly, appropriate arrangements will be made in respect of lectures and classes that students cannot attend because they are isolating themselves.

Note that the particular Government advice set out above only applies to those who have travelled from Wuhan or Hubei Province in the past 14 days; it does not apply to those who have come here from other parts of China. Such individuals should follow the advice below.

Advice for staff and students who have recently returned from elsewhere in China

The latest Government advice is that, if you have travelled to the UK from elsewhere in China (but not Macao or Hong Kong) in the past 14 days AND develop symptoms of a cough, fever or shortness of breath*, you should immediately:

  • stay indoors and avoid contact with other people, as you would with the flu; and
  • call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the country.

Please follow this advice even if your symptoms are minor.

You should inform your school if you are isolating yourself, in accordance with the above advice. Staff (and academic visitors) should do so by e-mailing their head of school. Students should contact their School Student Support Office and, if they live in University accommodation, should also inform the hall warden or equivalent.

* If you have no symptoms, you may engage in University activities as normal, but please check this page regularly for any updated guidance.

Staff and students currently in China

From Tuesday 28 January, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been advising against all but essential travel to mainland China.

The University is therefore now seeking to remove from mainland China all staff and students currently in the country on University business. The University will be liaising with staff and students individually to facilitate their return as quickly as possible.

If you are a member of staff currently working in mainland China and have not been contacted by anyone at the University, please contact your head of school at your earliest convenience.

If you are currently studying in China and have not had contact with anyone at the University, please contact the Study Abroad Office via email or call +44(0)113 3430046 at your earliest convenience.

Advice for staff and students considering travel to China

As noted above, the FCO is advising again all but essential travel to mainland China.

The University will not be sending students or staff to mainland China while this FCO advice remains in place.

The University will contact students individually who are due to travel to China within the next few weeks to discuss options. If you are due to go to China and have not heard anything, please contact your school at your earliest convenience.

For all other overseas travel (that is, travel other than mainland China), the normal University travel processes should be followed – including the production of a risk assessment informed by FCO advice and input from our Health and Safety Services. For support or advice on completion of a risk assessment, please contact your local health and safety manager or e-mail Health and Safety Services.

General health advice

This is a time of year when many people in the UK suffer from coughs and colds. Everyone is recommended to follow the usual hygiene precautions in daily life to reduce the risk of infection, such as washing hands regularly, covering your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough, and keeping kitchens clean.

As a matter of general good practice, all students should ensure that they are registered with a local doctor. Most students choose to register with the Leeds Student Medical Practice, which is near the University campus. See the For Students website for further information about how to register with them or alternative local doctors.

Students should also check that their vaccinations are up to date. In particular, if you did not have the Meningitis vaccination before you arrived in Leeds, you should book an appointment for this with your doctor.

Sources of information

You can obtain information from the Government’s website and the following websites:

Public Health England (PHE)

World Health Organisation (WHO)

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

 

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