Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs for students and staff

This page is being regularly updated to reflect the latest advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), World Health Organisation (WHO) Public Health England (PHE) and other sources including local partners. We are monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its impact, and doing all we can to make safe and reassure our staff and students.

This page contains information including:

General questions for students and staff and parents

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Novel Coronavirus (COVD-19) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.

What is the current risk to the UK from Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

We are following government advice as to the risk of coronavirus, which is currently moderate in the UK. This allows the government to plan for all eventualities.

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Symptoms of Coronavirus include:

  • feeling tired
  • difficulty breathing
  • high temperature
  • a cough. 
  • For more information about symptoms please visit the NHS webpages.

How is Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread? 

Because it's a new illness, we do not know exactly how the Coronavirus (COVID-19)  spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread by cough droplets.

For all our staff, students and visitors in the UK, in line with advice from the NHS, we would ask you to follow these basic hygiene rules to protect your own health and that of others:

  • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze
  • Bin the tissue and, to kill the germs, wash your hands with soap and water, or use a sanitiser gel. 

What is the University doing about Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The University is acting on advice from sources including the FCO, WHO, NHS and Public Health England. We have taken proactive steps to contact our students and staff to ensure that everyone has access to the latest advice. We have been in contact with students and staff who are in China and those students and staff who may have recently returned to the UK from Wuhan / Hubei Province. We are monitoring the situation closely, have made plans to act quickly if the situation changes and will provide further updates as necessary.

How do I keep updated about the latest University information about Coronavirus(COVID-19)?

The intranet news page and this Frequently Asked Questions page will be kept up to date. As this is a rapidly evolving situation we are asking you to check these pages regularly to keep informed of the latest advice.

I have plans to travel to China, South Korea or Italy - what should I do?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is currently advising against  all travel to Hubei Province, and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China. 

Latest travel advice for China

The FCO is also advising against all but essential travel to:

  • the cities of Dagegu and Cheongdo in South Korea
  • ten small towns in the Lombardy region and one in the Veneto region of Italy

See the latest travel advice for South Korea and Italy.

THe FCO is not advising against travel to any other country/territory as a result of coronavirus risks.

We will also continue to monitor travel advice to other countries and provide updates as appropriate. If you are planning to travel to a country with known cases of the coronavirus in the next few weeks, you may also wish to sign up to the FCO’s email alerts for that country. To do this, go to the Foreign travel advice page, choose the relevant country and click on the ‘get email alerts’ option above the summary.

I am due to start my second semester at a partner university in China – what do I do?

We have been advised by our six partner universities that they will be delaying the start of the new semester.

Please contact the Study Abroad and Exchange Team for further advice.

I am concerned about my flatmate/colleague/family member/friend who is currently in China. What can I do?

We understand that this is a worrying time, and that you may have concerns about people you care about. The University is in regular contact and supporting students and staff that we know are in China. 

There is a range of Wellbeing support available for students

Staff can contact Workplace Wellbeing

If you have any particular concerns please contact: ss-feedback@contacts.bham.ac.uk

I am concerned about my Chinese flatmate/colleague/friend/family member who is currently in the UK. What can I do?

If they are displaying the symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) please call 111 and refer to the NHS webpages for advice.

If they are not displaying symptoms of Coronavirus(COVID-19) please be aware that this is a worrying time for anyone who may have friends and/or family in China. Please help to support and reassure them, and talk to them about how they are feeling.

There is a range of Wellbeing support available for students

Staff can contact Workplace Wellbeing

If you have any particular concerns please contact: ss-feedback@contacts.bham.ac.uk

 Questions for Returning Travellers

 

I have returned from Asia in the past 14 days and am feeling unwell. What should I do?

If you have returned to the UK from any of the areas below in the last 14 days, and develop symptoms of cough or fever or shortness of breath, you should:

  • stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu
  • call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the country 
  • Please follow this advice even if your symptoms are minor.

The areas are:

  • China
  • Thailand
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Macau

I have recently returned (since 19 February) from Iran, lockdown areas in Italy, special care zones in South Korea or Hubei province. What should I do?

If you have returned from one of the areas listed above you should call NHS 111 and stay indoors avoiding contact with other people, even if you feel fine.

The lockdown areas in Italy currently are: 

In the region of LombardyCodogno; Castiglione d’Adda; Casalpusterlengo; Fombio; Maleo; Somaglia; Bertonico; Terranova dei Passerini; Castelgerundo; and San Fiorano.

In the region of VenetoVo’Euganeo.

Read the latest government advice

I have recently returned (since 19 February) from Northern Italy, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar. What should I do?

If you have returned from one of the areas listed above and develop symptoms, however mild, you should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people and call NHS 111.

If you have not developed any symptoms you can return to your studies as planned.

 

Questions for students on a study abroad or exchange programme

I am a student with a study abroad/exchange partner in Italy - is there any advice for me?

We are aware that some of our partner institutions have given notice of a temporary closure for the week commencing 24/02/2020.  

There is currently no advice from the UK Government that it is not safe to be in the country -  and so our advice is that you should remain where you are and wait for further information from your host institution.   If your studies have been disrupted this week we are hoping that this will be a temporary measure and we will stay in close contact with you and our partners throughout this week to see how the situation develops.  If you are due to travel to the regions most affected by the outbreak (Veneto and Lombardy – including Venice and Milan) and have not yet travelled then our advice is to remain in the UK and await a further update from your host institution

The government of Italy has introduced extraordinary measures that allow regions to implement civil protection measures in response to Coronavirus.

Read the latest travel advice

I am a student in or planning to travel to the wider affected region including: Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia - is there any advice for me?

The UK Government is currently only advising against travel to Mainland China – and for any UK citizens in China to leave if they are able to do so.

There is no current advice that it is not safe to travel to any of the other regions and countries listed, although it is likely that there will be additional screening measures and possible entry restrictions at border crossing and transport hubs (including airports) The University is not advising against travel to any of these regions – but we would always recommend that students/travellers take extra, sensible precautions – and to follow the advice of your host institution in country. 

I am a student in South Korea or planning to travel to South Korea.  What should I do?

We will be contacting all Study Abroad and Exchange Students with further advice relevant to your individual circumstances where some partner institutions have further delayed the start of the new semester “until further notice”.   There is no current advice that it is not safe to travel to South Korea but the recent increase in confirmed cases has impacted on the opening of education establishments and we are actively seeking to mitigate this with any individual students affected. 

Questions for students in the UK

I am a student/member of staff who works or is on placement in the NHS (clinical setting) is there any special advice for me in relation to Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

We are aware that a number of our partner NHS Trusts have put additional containment measures in place recognising the potential for additional risk in a health care/clinical setting. This may vary between Trusts and different clinical settings / placement types for staff and students who have travelled and returned to the UK from the following areas:

  • China
  • Thailand
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Macau

If you have travelled and returned from any of these areas in the last 14 days you should immediately seek advice from your local Trust or placement setting about any additional precautions that may be required before returning to their premises. This is whether you have any symptoms or not.

You must follow the advice of your local Trust or placement setting, which may require you to not attend your NHS place of work/placement for a period of self-isolation. 

  • Staff members should notify your Institute Director/Head of School of any change of circumstances and for further advice.
  • Students should notify your Course Lead / Head of School of any change of circumstances and for further advice.

The University is following the advice set out by Public Health England which only requires self-isolation after travel to one of the countries in the wider affected region if you are displaying symptoms. Meaning that if you are not displaying any symptoms then you can continue to come to the University for work and study as normal.

The general advice remains that if you have travelled in the wider affected region and have returned in the last 14 days and develop symptoms of cough, or fever or shortness of breath you should immediately:

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

My visa to remain in the UK is due to expire and I am concerned that I cannot get home to China.

The UK Government has published new guidance for staff and students who might be affected by this situation, and may face travel restrictions due to circumstances outside of your control.

The Home Office and UKVI have published their advice here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-immigration-guidance-if-youre-unable-to-return-to-china-from-the-uk

Students:  If you have any other concerns about your visa then you can contact the International Students Team via:  https://uobasops.formstack.com/forms/isas_appointment_enquiry_form

Staff Members should contact HR.

I am a student and have recently returned from Wuhan/Hubai. What should I do?

If you have returned from Wuhan in the last 14 days:

  • stay indoors and avoid contact with other people
  • as a precautionary measure please call 111 for support and advice

I have called 111 and been advised to self-isolate - what does this mean?

Self-isolation means staying at home for 14 days and not going to University or work, using public transport such as buses or trains, or visiting public areas such as libraries, pubs or shops. Please ask friends or family to help with shopping or other essential supplies you may need.  There is more advice about self isolation on the government website here

Please contact your school in the first instance and our support team on ss-feedback@contacts.bham.ac.uk. We can offer advice and support while you are in isolation.

I have called 111 and been advised to self-isolate - how will this affect my studies?

Please do not be worried about being absent from your studies for this short period. Your school and the support team at ss-feedback@contacts.bham.ac.uk will help to make sure this does not affect your studies. 

I am an international student (with a Tier4 visa) and I've been advised by the NHS to self-isolate, how will this affect my Tier 4 visa? 

Please do not worry about the impact of this on your Tier 4 visa. By telling your school and

ss-feedback@contacts.bham.ac.uk we will make sure this does not impact on your visa.


Questions for students in Dubai

I am a student/staff based in the Dubai campus  - does this affect me?

Please visit the Dubai Health Authority website for the latest information on Dubai, however the advice that we have provided is also applicable to staff and students in Dubai.

Anyone based in Dubai who has a particular concern about the impact of the coronavirus should contact the Wellbeing team at dubaiwellbeing@contacts.bham.ac.uk.


Questions for Staff

I am a staff member, who has recently returned from abroad.  What should I do?

Please see questions for returning travellers for more information.

I am a member of University staff and I’ve been told by the NHS to self-isolate, who do I need to tell?

Please contact your line manager in the first instance.  They can contact Workplace Wellbeing for further advice.

I have an underlying health condition  - what should I do?

Individuals who have an existing long-term condition and are concerned about coronavirus should continue to take their normal precautions and may wish to contact their GP. As advised by PHE the risks continue to be low of the coronavirus infection spreading. If people with long-term conditions have concerns they may have the coronavirus, they should telephone NHS 111.

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