University of Birmingham statement regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

*Statement last updated: Wednesday 25th February 2020*
This statement will be regularly updated as the latest advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), World Health Organisation (WHO) and Public Health England (PHE) and other sources becomes available

We are regularly updating the FAQs for staff and students to include the most up to date advice.

New posts today include:

  • Questions for returning travellers
  • I am a student with a study abroad/exchange programme in Italy, is there advice for me?

More information and the latest Frequently Asked Questions are available here

*Statement updated Wednesday 19th February 2020

New frequently asked questions include:

  • 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)?
  • My visa to remain in the UK is due to expire and I am concerned that I cannot get home to China…

See all our frequently asked questions.

*Statement updated Friday 7th February

Based on advice from the UK Chief Medical Officers, travel advice has been updated to include travellers who have returned to the UK from the following areas:

  • China
  • Thailand
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Hong Kong (S.A.R)
  • Taiwan
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Macau (S.A.R)

If you have returned to the UK from any of these areas 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 
  • Please follow this advice even if your symptoms are minor.

*Statement last updated: Friday 31 January*

UPDATE – The government’s Chief Medical Officer has now advised that anyone returning from wider mainland China, if they have any symptoms, should self-isolate and phone NHS 111. This is a change from previous advice.

 Yesterday, the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern and following this the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate. This permits the government to plan for all eventualities.

While there are now a small number of positive cases in the UK, the government’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty said:

“The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread.

We have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately. We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organization and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities.”

We have put posters up around campus from Public Health England (example below) and would recommend that staff and students on campus maintain good hand hygiene to prevent any infections potentially spreading (as you would for any other illness such as the common cold and flu etc.).

Corvirus cropped

We have also heard from our partner institutions in China who have advised that Chinese Universities are closed for the forseeable future.

The previous advice below remains current. Please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions for specific queries.


*Statement last updated: Thursday 30 January 2020*

The University strongly advises all staff and students against non-essential travel to China (including the S.A.R. Hong Kong) until further notice - which we will keep under review.

We have made this decision based on the latest advice from the FCO as well as advice from our own staff office in China, and in light of notification from institutional partners in China that they will be extending the New Year holiday and so are likely to be closed until further notice.

The Chinese government continue to impose further restrictions on movement within China in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Some airlines, including British Airways, have suspended flights to and from mainland China. Other commercial airlines are still operating, but it may become harder over the coming weeks for those who wish to leave China to do so.  The FCO advise that “If you feel that you may want to leave China soon, you should consider making plans to do so before any further restrictions may be imposed.”

 If you are currently in China and are waiting for a partner institution to re-open, additional guidance is available via our frequently asked questions.

There is also information on our frequently asked questions about changing travel arrangements if you are in or about to go to China (including the S.A.R Hong Kong).

Latest advice for travellers who have visited Wuhan or Hubei from Public Health England (PHE)

If you have returned from Wuhan or Hubei in the last 14 days PHE advises:

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

If you need to be absent from your studies for a short period due to clinical advice then you should notify your school in the first instance and contact our support team on: ss-feedback@contacts.bham.ac.uk  We can then offer advice and support while you are in isolation.  Please do not worry about being absent from your studies for this short period.

This is an evolving situation and the advice has changed based on emerging information from China about the number of cases and spread of the infection from person to person. While the risk to the UK population remains low, this is a highly precautionary measure to limit the potential spread of infection.

Please follow this advice even if you do not have symptoms of the virus but have recently visited Wuhan / Hubei province within the last 14 days.  

More detailed information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public

Specific advice and guidance for staff and students in Dubai

 The above advice is applicable to staff and students currently in Dubai, however further advice is also available from the Dubai Health Authority here. Staff and students in Dubai can also contact the Wellbeing team at dubaiwellbeing@contacts.bham.ac.uk.


*Statement last updated: Tuesday 28 January 2020*

The University strongly advises all staff and students against non-essential travel to China (including the S.A.R Hong Kong) until (at least) 14th February - which we will keep under review.

We have made this decision based on advice from our own staff office in China, and in light of notification from institutional partners in China that they will be extending the New Year holiday and so are likely to be closed, at least, until 17 February 2020.

We are also aware of ongoing travel restrictions, particularly in and around Wuhan and Hubei Province, extending to other cities.

We have developed some Frequently Asked Questions for further advice on changing travel arrangements if you are in or about to go to China or Hong Kong.

Latest Advice for travellers who have visited Wuhan or Hubei from Public Health England.

PHE have updated their advice today as follows - 

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

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

If you need to be absent from your studies for a short period due to clinical advice then you should notify your school in the first instance and contact our support team on: ss-feedback@contacts.bham.ac.uk  We can then offer advice and support while you are in isolation.  Please do not worry about being absent from your studies for this short period.

This is an evolving situation and the advice has changed based on emerging information from China about the number of cases and spread of the infection from person to person. While the risk to the UK population remains low, this is a highly precautionary measure to limit the potential spread of infection.

Please follow this advice even if you do not have symptoms of the virus but have recently visited Wuhan / Hubei province within the last 14 days.  More detailed information can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public


*Statement last updated: Monday 27 January 2020*

The University is aware of the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus originating in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, with cases confirmed in other parts of China. As is consistent with the latest FCO advice, we are advising all staff and students against travel to Hubei Province.

We will continue to closely monitor FCO, WHO and PHE advice and take measures accordingly.

Advice for students

Students should seek medical attention, via the GP or by calling 111, if they develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of visiting Wuhan, either in China or on their return to the UK. These symptoms include –

  • symptoms of a common cold
  • fever
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • problems breathing
  • shortness of breath
  • headache and body aches) should seek medical care.

If you are an international student, access to medical care is normally through your local doctor – also called a GP.  You need to register in advance by visiting the doctor's surgery and completing some simple forms.  All students are advised to register with a doctor straight away and not wait until they become ill.

Dr Nick Phin, Deputy Director, National Infection Service, Public Health England has advised staff and students visiting Wuhan or returning to the UK from affected areas:

“Individuals should seek medical attention if they develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of visiting Wuhan, either in China or on their return to the UK. They should phone ahead before attending any health services and mention their recent travel to the city.”

We strongly recommend that staff and students on campus maintain good hand hygiene to prevent the infection potentially spreading, as advised by Public Health England. There is more information about preventing the spread of infection on our infectious diseases intranet page

Although the risk in the UK is low, we recognise this can be a worrying time for you, and your friends and families abroad.  If you need to talk you can contact the University’s support services. You can also talk to your Wellbeing Officer in your School/College.

Advice for travellers

Public Health England has offered advice to travellers, and additional health screening measures may be in place for anyone choosing to travel.

We recognise that students and staff members may be traveling independently, particularly at the time of the Lunar New Year festival – and we would urge you to take all sensible precautions. Travel from the affected regions into the UK is now subject to additional health checks and screening at UK borders.  Students and staff experiencing persistent symptoms (similar to those of a common cold, including fever, dry cough, sore throat, problems breathing, shortness of breath, headache and body aches) should seek medical care.

In addition to the above, University staff planning business trips to other parts of China may also need to complete an assessment of risk in conjunction with their School or College.

Students from Wuhan City partners

Students from a range of partner universities in Wuhan City, Hubei Province are currently studying in Birmingham and most will have travelled to the University many months ago to commence or continue their studies. The risk of any infection in the UK is currently low. There are no new students starting at the University in January 2020 from the affected regions.

 

*Statement last updated: Friday 23 January 2020*

The University is aware of the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus originating in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, with cases confirmed in other parts of China.

 As is consistent with the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice, we are advising all staff and students against all but essential travel to Wuhan city, Hubei Province.

Public Health England has offered advice to travellers, and additional health screening measures may be in place for anyone choosing to travel.

Students from a range of partner universities in Wuhan City are currently studying in Birmingham and will have travelled to the University many months ago to commence or continue their studies and the risk of any infection in the UK is currently low. There are no new students starting at the University in January 2020 from the affected regions.

We recognise that students and staff members may be traveling independently, particularly at the time of the Lunar New Year festival – and we would urge you to take all sensible precautions. Travel from the affected regions into the UK is now subject to additional health checks and screening at UK borders.  Students and staff experiencing persistent symptoms (similar to those of a common cold, including fever, dry cough, sore throat, problems breathing, shortness of breath, headache and body aches) should seek medical care.

If you are an international student, access medical care is normally through your local doctor – also called a GP.  You need to register in advance by visiting the doctor's surgery and completing some simple forms. In an emergency you should go straight to the Accident and Emergency department at a hospital.  

If, having read the advice and guidance on the above webpages, you are feeling concerned please contact your GP or the University’s Wellbeing Support Services.

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