The Covid-19 (coronavirus) infection has now been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organisation.
Originating in China, Covid-19 is now sweeping through the UK as well as the rest of Europe, the United States and across the world, and the different countries are currently taking different approaches to attempting to contain the health crisis. In this blog we want to give you an overview of the current situation for postgraduate students at UK universities.
With universities in Italy, Spain, Ireland and France closed for the next few weeks and other European countries expected to follow suit soon, Public Health England is currently advising all UK universities that university and college activities should continue as normal for the time being. However, many universities are starting to take certain decisions of their own as a precaution against Covid-19, particularly moving towards as many remote learning and academic meetings as possible for the next few weeks. For example, Durham University is continuing with teaching until the end of term with the library staying open, however classes are to be accessed by the students remotely as posted on their website. They state that, “From Monday 16 March until the end of Term (Friday 20 March), classroom teaching of all forms will cease and alternative modes of teaching should be used by all instructors.”
All UK universities ultimately have the wellbeing of their students as their prime consideration and are taking regular advice from Public Health England and are publishing regular updates on their websites as to their teaching, access and, in some instances, confirmed student Covid-19 cases – so keep checking your university’s website to keep up to date with their policy with regards to lessons and exams.
What should you do if you think you might have coronavirus?
If you have any of the common symptoms of coronavirus – temperature, cough, sore throat – according to the latest advice in the UK you need to self-isolate for seven days. At the end of the week if you no longer have a fever and are feeling better you can return to your normal routine at your university. While you are stuck at home in self-isolation make sure you communicate your situation with your lecturers, and if you feel capable of studying they should be able to send you through details of lectures, research, essays, etc so you can keep up with your studies at home. As of the 16th March the UK government changed it's self-isolation policy so that if you are displaying symptoms and living with others the entrie household needs to self-isolate for 14 days.
If your symptoms persist beyond the seven days of self-isolation the current advice is to call 111 and discuss your situation with an NHS professional.
Dos & don’ts of self-isolation
If you have to self-isolate for seven days – here's a list of things you should be doing:
Keep at least 2 metres from the students you live with.
Ask others to deliver essentials such as food and medicine so you can stay at home – but make sure you ask them to leave it on the doorstep/front door so you can avoid contact with them.
Wash your hands regularly with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds – it’s longer than you think so try singing two rounds of ‘Happy Birthday’ before you turn the tap off!
Drink plenty of water.
Keep away from older people (over 70-years-old) and those with long-term health conditions.
Take paracetamol regularly to ease pain and keep your temperature down.
And here's a list of things you shouldn't be doing:
Don’t go to university.
Don’t have any visitors.
Don’t share dishes, cooking utensils, drinking glasses, cups, etc, with your flatmates.
Don’t use the bathroom at the same time as others – try and use a completely separate bathroom if you can, and if this is not possible make sure you clean it as best you can after use.
Don’t go out for a walk.
As it is such a new disease and behaving in such an unprecedented fashion, the information and advice on Covid-19 and government policies regarding public safety are changing on an almost daily basis. Please note that the information and advice provided in this blog was correct at the time of publication on 15th March but could change in due course and we will do our best to keep you updated as and when any major changes happen.