On 11 March 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) officially named COVID-19 as a pandemic.
Public Health England (PHE) and WHO are working with other international partners to constantly monitor the situation.
We would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that University Centre Leeds takes the health and safety of its students and staff very seriously. We are carefully monitoring the situation and will keep you informed of any updates. In the meantime, students and colleagues are encouraged to continue to attend as normal.
Infections such as colds and influenza are very common in the UK at this time of year. For the time being, if you develop viral symptoms, you should manage these as you usually would.
Advice for travellers and returning travellers
Below is nationally recognised advice for anyone due to travel or returning travellers.
Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people (self-isolation) if you have travelled to the UK from the following locations in the last 14 days, even if you do not have symptoms:
- Hubei province in China
- Special care zones in South Korea (Daegu, Cheongdo, Gyeongsan)
Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people if you have travelled to the UK from the following places in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath, even if your symptoms are mild:
- Hong Kong
- Mainland China (outside the Hubei province)
- South Korea (outside of the special care zones)
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Instead, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next. In Scotland, call your GP or NHS 111. In Wales, call 111 (if available in your area) or 0845 4647.
Advice to travellers to and from mainland China
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) latest travel advice is that all Brits in China should leave the country if they can, to minimise their risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Additionally, the FCO advises against all travel to Hubei Province and all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao).
Advice to travellers
Brits travelling or living overseas should check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s official travel advice.
Frequently asked questions
Q:What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?
A: Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that are common across the world. The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan, China.
Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
A: Typical symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and a cough that may progress to severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Generally, COVID-19 can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people and those with long-term conditions such as diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
Q: How does coronavirus spread?
A: As this is a new illness, we do not know exactly how it spreads from person to person, however, similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. It’s very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.
Official advice emphasises the importance of hand hygiene to protect yourself from infection and important hygiene practices to follow include: carry tissues and use them to catch coughs and sneezes, then bin the tissue and wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser if this is not available.
Q: Should I really be worried about COVID-19?
A: We would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that we recognise the seriousness of this situation. Though we would urge staff, students and parents/carers not to panic, we do encourage everyone to continue to follow government advice such as maintaining good hand hygiene.
Q: Is there a vaccine or cure for COVID-19?
A: At the moment there is no vaccine or cure for COVID-19, though a vaccine is being researched and developed. Antibiotics will not help as they do not work against viruses. Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness and you will need to self-isolate until you have recovered.
Q: What does self-isolate mean?
A: If you are advised to self-isolate this means you should stay at home and avoid contact with others for 14 days after your arrival. You should contact NHS 111 for advice and should not visit your GP or hospital. Anyone in self-isolation can resume normal activities after the two-week period as long as they have not developed a fever, breathing difficulties or cough. If you feel unwell during this time, contact NHS 111 immediately.
Q: Is my immigration status affected?
A: The Home Office recognises that some individuals in the UK are unable to return to China. The guidance states: “Due to travel restrictions because of coronavirus some individuals may be facing uncertainty in relation to the expiry date of their current visa or leave to remain in the UK. The Home Office understands that in many cases this is because of circumstances outside of your control. Subject to guidance, most people in the UK whose immigration status is affected by coronavirus will get an automatic visa extension until 31 March 2020. More information on visas is available on the government website.
Q: What is University Centre Leeds doing about COVID-19?
A: We are following official advice from the UK government and Public Health England. Additionally, we are taking precautionary measures such as cancelling our March events and ensuring all staff and students can access hand sanitiser. We are monitoring the situation and putting in place contingency plans, all necessary information will be communicated to staff and students as required.
Q: How will University Centre Leeds keep me updated with information?
A: Students will receive any important updates via text. We have spotted some fake new stories circulating on social media, if you spot any fake news stories or have any queries feel free to contact us.
Contacts and resources
If you are a member of staff and are concerned that you (or another member of staff) are affected by the situation please contact your line manager.
The below general resources are trusted sources that may be helpful if you wish to learn more about coronavirus and keep up-to-date on the situation.
Please note, we encourage all of our staff and students to act based on advice from official channels such as those listed below.
NHS COVID-19 page
Official NHS information and advice on coronavirus can be found on the official COVID-19 page on the NHS website. This includes an overview, recommendations for self-isolation, information on the 111 coronavirus service, information on the disease and how to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus.
UK government guidance
The UK government continues to update its official website with new advice, guidance and policies relating to the coronavirus outbreak.
Updated information relating to the government’s response to COVID-19 including stay at home guidance, NHS information, guidance for health professionals, travel advice and the number of cases can be found here.
Government action plan
More information on the government’s action plan including existing measures and potential future actions as well as information on the contain, delay and mitigation phases can be found here.
Government information for the public
Information on the number of cases and risk level in the UK, advice on what to do if you have symptoms and details on the government’s response can be found here.
To see a summary of the COVID-19 timeline alongside rolling updates from WHO on the coronavirus disease, click here.