Coronavirus

The World Health Organisation were informed on 31 December 2019 of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan, China. A new coronavirus was identified as the cause. This is now referred to as COVID-19.

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can infect people and cause illness ranging from mild illness, such as the common cold, to other more severe disease such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

What are the risks?

The Foreign Office is currently advising against all but essential travel to mainland China (not including Hong Kong or Macao).

There is no vaccine against this novel coronavirus and travellers are recommended to avoid non-essential travel.

Risk of infection in the UK

The Secretary of State has made regulations to ensure that the public are protected as far as possible from the transmission of the virus.

If there is a case in the UK, health professionals will aim to contact anyone who has been in close contact with the infected person.

If you have not been contacted, be reassured you are extremely unlikely to catch COVID-19. Please see more information on the NHS website.

Action being taken by the University

We are closely monitoring advice from Public Health England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the World Health Organisation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We have also been taking advice from our occupational health team.

We are meeting on a regular basis to ensure we have the most up to date information and are sharing knowledge across the University community.

Travel to and from Wuhan, China and other areas

Returning from Wuhan

Public Health England are advising people to take simple, common-sense steps to avoid close contact with other people as much as possible, like they would with other flu viruses.

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

  • Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people for a period of 14 days after your date of return from Wuhan. For students on campus this means staying in your room, or going home if that is practical, and not receiving visitors to your room. This is a simple, common-sense way of reducing the chance of passing on any infection. The University will help you with practical, pastoral and academic support during this timeframe. Do not visit public areas and where possible avoid having visitors to your home. For staff this means remaining at home and avoiding close contact with family members. Do not travel to work or public places during this timeframe.
  • Contact NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the city
  • Students should notify Student Wellbeing and their personal tutor by telephone or email
  • Staff should notify their line manager and occupational health by telephone or email

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

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

Returning from other parts of China and other specified areas

The UK Government has commenced advanced monitoring at airports for all direct flights from China. China has also introduced port-of-exit screening so people already exhibiting symptoms are not allowed to leave the country. Some airlines have taken the decision to cancel direct flights to and from China.

This advice applies to travellers who have returned to the UK from the following areas:

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

If you've returned from any of these areas in the last 14 days, and get a cough or fever, or you feel short of breath:

  1. Do not attend the University campus
  2. Try to limit contact with others until you have been assessed by a health professional
  3. Call 111 to seek medical advice if you're experiencing flu-like symptoms or severe acute respiratory infection (including at least one of shortness of breath, cough or sore throat), informing them about your recent travel and that you may have been exposed. Do not visit your GP, local hospital or pharmacy.
  4. If after seeking medical advice and you need to be tested for the virus, please inform either Occupational Health (staff) ohquery@essex.ac.uk or Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service (student) wellbeing@essex.ac.uk.

Please follow this advice even if your symptoms are minor.

If you're a student and you have any questions, please contact our Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service via email at wellbeing@essex.ac.uk.

Travelling to China

Current FCO guidance as of 28 January 2020 advises against all but essential travel to mainland China (not including Hong Kong or Macao).

Check latest advice and complete a risk assessment

It is unlikely University travel will be considered essential, if however travel is required in the coming weeks, please ensure you check for the updated advice prior to confirming your travel arrangements.

If you are travelling for work, or as part of your course, you need to complete a risk assessmentrisk assessmentrisk assessment before you travel.

Staff undertaking business travel should complete and submit a travel application form prior to travel and review travel advice from the Foreign Office and Public Health England.

You will also need to self-isolate on return following a visit to Wuhan.

Guidance if you're unable to return to China from the UK

The UK government has published new guidance on immigration provisions made by the Home Office for individuals in the UK who are unable to return to China.

This guidance relates to visa-related issues which including:

  • Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa has recently expired or is about to expire
  • Non-Chinese, non-EEA nationals in the UK normally resident in China
  • Licensed Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 sponsors: absences due to coronavirus

Find out more on the GOV.UK website.

Reducing the risk of contracting coronavirus and other viruses

The WHO has published standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses, which include hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices.

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough.
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.
  • The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.

If you fall ill whilst visiting an affected region you must seek medical advice and inform travel insurers as necessary.

If you become ill

If you become unwell within 14 days of travelling to the following areas :

  • China
  • Thailand
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Macau
  1. Do not attend the University campus
  2. Try to limit contact with others until you have been assessed by a health professional
  3. Call 111 to seek medical advice if you're experiencing flu-like symptoms or severe acute respiratory infection (including at least one of shortness of breath, cough or sore throat), informing them about your recent travel and that you may have been exposed. Do not visit your GP, local hospital or pharmacy.
  4. If after seeking medical advice and you need to be tested for the virus, please inform either Occupational Health (staff) ohquery@essex.ac.uk or Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service (student) wellbeing@essex.ac.uk.
Contact us
Contact us
Information for staff Occupational Health
Telephone: 01206 872399
Information for students Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service
Telephone: 01206 873133