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Coronavirus: guidance for staff and students

Last updated 16.21 Monday 17 February 2020

We have very strong connections and collaborations with China, and these will continue despite current travel restrictions. This is a difficult time, especially for our staff, students and friends in China and other areas most affected by coronavirus. Our focus is on the safety and wellbeing of our community"

Professor Alice Gast

President of Imperial College London

We know that some of you may have concerns or questions about the current outbreak of coronavirus. We want to reassure you we are working hard to ensure everyone at the College is safe and that, as far as possible, College business proceeds as normal.

The College is following Public Health England guidance. UK public health measures are world leading and the excellent NHS is well prepared to manage and treat new diseases.

At Imperial we have followed well-established systems in setting up a cross-College group to coordinate our response.

In addition to the guidance below, detailed FAQs for students are also available

Guidance

Staff and students returning from Wuhan and Hubei Province

If you are currently in Wuhan or Hubei Province on a work, study or personal trip please contact us at coronavirus-guidance@imperial.ac.uk to let us know. 

If you have returned from Wuhan or Hubei Province in the last 14 days please follow Public Health England advice and:

  • 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

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

Staff and students returning from elsewhere in China and other specified areas

If you are currently in mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau on a work, study or personal trip please contact us at coronavirus-guidance@imperial.ac.uk to let us know. 

If you are currently in China on College business, please contact your Faculty Operating Officer or Director to check your College travel insurance position. If the area you are in is no longer covered by insurance, we will support you to return to the UK.

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

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

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.

Please note this guidance also applies if you have been in transit through one of the countries above - for example, changing planes. 

Should you develop symptoms while on campus, please follow Public Health England guidance and call NHS 111. Whilst you wait for advice from NHS 111 or an ambulance to arrive, try to find somewhere safe to sit where you are away from other people, and avoid touching people, surfaces and objects. Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze and put the tissue in your bag or pocket. then throw the tissue in the bin. If you don’t have any tissues available, cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Please contact the College Security team who will support you to make appropriate arrangements to follow this Public Health England advice.

Staff and students who are unable to return to the UK and/or need to avoid contact with others

Please do not be concerned about your work or studies if you are abroad and are unable to return to the UK, and/or if you need to avoid contact with others for 14 days when you return to the UK.  

Staff

If you are a member of staff, please contact your line manager and coronavirus-guidance@imperial.ac.uk for support.

Please be reassured that you will not be penalised for missing work. Faculties are liaising with HR on individual cases.

Students

If you are a student, please contact all of the following for support:

Please be reassured that specific arrangements about your course will be handled by your faculty. The cross-College group is working with the faculties on any disruption to study. 

Please also consult the detailed FAQs for students

Immigration guidance for Chinese nationals in the UK who are unable to return to China

The Home Office has published new guidance for Chinese nationals who are unable to return to China from the UK.

If you are a Chinese national in the UK and have been compliant with the conditions of your visa prior to the coronavirus outbreak, your leave will be automatically extended to 31 March 2020 if your visa has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020. You don’t need to do anything to get this extension.

This also applies to Non-Chinese, non-EEA nationals in the UK normally resident in China.

Read the guidance in full

Travel to China – including travel to Hubei

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Hubei Province due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao). The Chinese government continue to impose further restrictions on movement within China in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

In line with FCO guidance, we advise against travel to China on College business at this time. If you consider your trip to China to be essential, please seek approval from your Dean or Director and confirm the College travel insurance position. The College will not allow work or study related trips which are not covered by the College insurance policy.

Travel to other countries

There are currently no travel restrictions relating to coronavirus in other countries. If you are planning a trip elsewhere you should check the FCO advice on a regular basis.

If you are planning a trip with a group of staff or students please inform your Faculty Operating Officer or the Imperial College Union as appropriate – you may need to be prepared to make changes at short notice.

Visitors to the College from China or other affected areas

If you are due to visit Imperial from Wuhan or Hubei Province, we suggest you liaise with your host to postpone your trip. 

If you are due to visit Imperial from elsewhere in China or other affected areas, please contact your host before confirming your travel arrangements.

Visitors and contractors on campus

Should you develop symptoms of cough or fever or shortness of breath while on campus, and you have returned to the UK from one of the areas specified by Public Health England in the last 14 days, please follow Public Health England guidance and call NHS 111. Please follow this advice even if your symptoms are minor.

Whilst you wait for advice from NHS 111 or an ambulance to arrive, try to find somewhere safe to sit where you are away from other people, and avoid touching people, surfaces and objects. Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze and put the tissue in your bag or pocket. then throw the tissue in the bin. If you don’t have any tissues available, cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Please contact the College Security team who will support you to make appropriate arrangements to follow this Public Health England advice.

Looking after your own health

The WHO’s standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows, 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.

We are currently looking into sourcing supplies of alcohol-based hand rub for use in the College.

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 by calling NHS 111. Please do not leave your home until you have been given advice by a clinician.

Existing medical conditions

If you are concerned because you have an existing medical condition or disability, please discuss this with your GP in the first instance.

Accessing healthcare in the UK

Anyone can call NHS 111 for medical advice – you do not need to be registered with a GP to call.

If you have travelled to the UK from elsewhere in China or other specified areas in the last 14 days and develop symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath, you should call NHS 111 – do not visit your GP practice in person.

In general it’s important to register with a GP so that you can access NHS healthcare.

Students

Please visit the Student Support Zone page for guidance on registering with a GP.

Staff

Please visit the staff pages for guidance on registering with a GP.

Concerns about friends or family

If you have concerns about friends or family in connection with coronavirus, please contact your personal tutor and senior tutor or equivalent, supervisor or line manager for support.

Concerns on campus

We understand that this is a worrying time but please be mindful of how your actions may be perceived. Imperial does not tolerate discrimination or harassment.

Anyone who has concerns should contact their personal tutor and senior tutor or equivalent, hall warden, supervisor or line manager. If you feel unable to do so, please contact us at coronavirus-guidance@imperial.ac.uk

Detailed FAQs for students

In addition to the guidance above, detailed FAQs for students are also available

Additional advice

We will continue to keep this webpage updated. Should there be any major changes we will inform the community directly.

Further advice and updates are also available on these sites: Public Health England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the World Health Organisation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you have any specific concerns not covered here you can email coronavirus-guidance@imperial.ac.uk and your query will be directed to the most relevant person.