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Advice for Warwick community on new Coronavirus outbreak

About this page

We have written these FAQs to help direct you to official advice regarding the new coronavirus outbreak.

This page was most recently reviewed on Monday 10 February.

Most cases of coronavirus appear to be mild, with those more severely affected already suffering underlying health conditions that leave them more vulnerable to respiratory conditions.

31st January: Based on the World Health Organisation’s declaration that the coronavirus outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK has changed its risk level from low to moderate. This change in level permits the government to plan for all eventualities, and the risk to individuals in the UK of contracting coronavirus remains low. Read the statement here.

We appreciate that news coverage of the coronavirus is concerning and upsetting to follow. We hope that the information on this page reassures you that we are ready to act upon official advice as a University, and we are ready to help anyone that needs advice, support or guidance.

The safety and wellbeing of our community is, and always will be, our highest priority, and we have carefully considered the official advice available to us, and our responsibility to ensure the welfare of our students, staff and visitors.

On this page


A) About the coronavirus

1) What is the coronavirus?

Public Health England writes that the coronavirus is a type of virus, and that “as a group, coronaviruses are common across the world … COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.”

Read more from Gov.uk about the coronavirus


2) What are the symptoms of coronovirus?

Common signs of the coronavirus are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty breathing

Most cases of coronavirus appear to be mild, with those who have been most affected were already suffering from underlying health conditions that leave them more vulnerable to respiratory conditions.

Read more about signs and symptoms from the World Health Organisation, and signs and symptoms from the Public Health England


3) How is it spread?

It is very likely that the coronavirus is spread in the same way that viruses very similar to it are spread – through small droplets released by coughs and sneezes, and through touching your mouth and eyes when the virus is on your hands (e.g. by touching contaminated surfaces)

Read more from the NHS on how the coronavirus is spread.


4) What's the risk to the UK?

Based on the World Health Organisation’s declaration that the coronavirus outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK has changed its risk level from low to moderate. This change in level permits the government to plan for all eventualities, and the risk to individuals in the UK of contracting coronavirus remains low. Read the statement here.

UK emergency services are well prepared to advise and act on any suspected cases should they arise. Warwick is ready to work with authorities should the need arise.


5) What can I do to protect myself from contracting coronavirus?

Because the virus is spread in similar ways to the seasonal flu virus, we can take the same, simple, common sense precautions that we would to stop ourselves getting colds and flu:

  • Wash your hands regularly, particularly after using the bathroom and before and after handling food
  • Use a paper handkerchief to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and put it in a waste bin, then wash your hands.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand gel to keep your hands clean between washing them
  • Avoid being too close to someone that is displaying cold or flu-like symptoms

Read more from the WHO on protecting yourself


6) What should I do if I think I may have contracted coronavirus?

If you develop any of the symptoms described above, or think that you may have otherwise contracted the coronavirus:

  • Stay indoors, and avoid contact with other people
  • Call NHS 111 immediately by dialling 111 on your phone. NHS 111 is the national means of assessing potential Covid-19 cases. Service operators, who are trained medical professionals, will be able to talk to you about your symptoms and offer you medical advice.
  • Do not go to your GP or hospital unless you are instructed to do so
  • Find out more about 111, the free-to-call NHS medical helpline
  • Once you've spoken to a medical professional through NHS 111, call Campus Security on 024765 22083. We want to make sure that you and our community are OK, and the campus security team are there to help anyone that falls ill on campus.

7) I’ve been in Wuhan and Hubei Province during the past 14 days. What should I do?

Public Health England has issued advice to anyone that has been in Wuhan within the last 14 days.

They advise anyone that has been to Wuhan in the last 14 days, even if they do not feel unwell, to:

  • 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
  • Remain home for 14 days after arriving back from Wuhan
  • follow this advice even if you do not have symptoms of the virus.

Read more advice for people who have arrived back in the last 14 days, from Public Health England

Update 10 February: travellers from China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Macau that have symptoms should stay indoors and call 111.


8) What should I do if I’m worried that someone else has contracted coronavirus?

If you are worried that someone has contracted the coronavirus, read the information on this page carefully, and encourage them to stay at home and call NHS 111.

If they are feeling too unwell to call NHS 111, or feel unsure about contacting the number, you should call on their behalf. NHS 111 are ready to advise you and help you in situations such as this.

Remember that it is very unlikely that someone has contracted coronavirus – measures are being taken by all the relevant authorities to limit the spread of coronavirus, and the threat to individual in the UK remains low. Also remember that most cases of coronavirus are mild, with fatalities being amongst those who have underlying conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to respiratory conditions.

As such, you will be able to help the unwell person by empathising with their situation, remaining calm, following the advice on this page, and following the instructions given to you by medical professionals.

B) Travel plans 

Travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is being updated frequently as the situation progresses. Their advice refers to travel restrictions, self isolation advice, and information regarding ease of travel within countries.

You should follow the advice set out within the travel web pages of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. You can sign up for email updates within each country's web page.

1) Travelling to China (business or studies)

Can I still travel to or from Wuhan, or to China?

As of 28 January 2020, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao).

The University has prohibited all University-related travel to China, in line with FCO advice. Please note that this is now the whole of mainland China, and not just Hubei Province.

What should I do if I have plans to travel to China?

If you were due to travel on University business of part of your supported studies then please contact the Insurance Services Department for further advice by email insuranceservices@warwick.ac.uk.

A number of students were due to begin studies in Chinese universities and are now unable to do so, due to the coronavirus. The University has contacted all students that have been affected by this, to support them and to offer alternative accommodation and study options.


2) Travelling to China (personal)

If you have plans to travel to China in a personal capacity, we would strongly recommend that you note that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all but essential travel to the whole of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao as at 28 January 2020).

The FCO has also advised that it is becoming increasingly difficult to move around China, and that you are very likely to encounter travel problems.

You are also advised to make preparations in case travelling out of the area becomes difficult, or even prohibited.

If you decide to ignore this advice and travel to Wuhan or mainland China, we would strongly recommend that you contact your airline and travel insurance provider before you travel to ensure your flights are still going ahead and that your insurance cover is adequate and valid.


3) Travelling within China

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) says that if you are in China, and you are able to leave, you should do so. Travel within China is becoming increasingly difficult as Chinese authorities work to contain the spread of the coronavirus by shutting down transport networks.

If you are a British national and currently in China, you should call the FCO on their 24/7 number:

  • +86 (0) 10 8529 6600,
  • FCO in London on (+44) (0)207 008 1500

What is happening at the University in relation to the coronavirus?

1) This is affecting my studies – what can I do?

For students who feel that their studies have been impacted upon by the coronavirus, please review the mitigating circumstances policy, and speak with Wellbeing Support Services.

If you develop cold or flu-like symptoms, you should stay out of public spaces which includes lectures and seminars. You should review the mitigating circumstances policy, and email or call your tutor to let them know what your situation is. Please be reassured that those who follow this guidance and as a result remain absent from University will have their absence marked as authorised.

Read information from the Student Immigration and Compliance team regarding the implications of coronavirus on visa's for students.


2) This is affecting my wellbeing – what can I do?

Students can talk to Wellbeing Support Services – the team is ready to talk and support you.

Staff can speak to their line manager for support, and the Employee Assistance Programme (open 24/7)


3) Opening post from areas affected by the coronavirus

The University hasn’t received any concerns or instructions from the relevant authorities regarding the handling of post or packages from Wuhan, Hubei province and other areas affected by the coronavirus.

We would reiterate that the risk to individuals in the UK has been assessed as low by the relevant authorities.

Our advice for anyone including staff handling mail would be to maintain good personal hygiene by washing your hands regularly and using an alcohol-based hand gel.


4) How is the University coordinating its response to the coronavirus outbreak?

The University follows a set action plan to coordinate our response to situations such as these, and we work closely with national and regional partners to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community – students, staff, visitors and our local community. The University has been monitoring the situation since the news broke, and is ready to work with the relevant authorities regarding the coronavirus.


5) What would happen if there was a confirmed case on campus?

In the unlikely situation that someone on campus is diagnosed with coronavirus, we would work with local emergency services and public health authorities to ensure that the person that is unwell receives the best care.

We would work with the partner agencies to understand if anyone that comes into close contact with the unwell person would need medical attention, and to make sure that they are seen to.

We will continue to issue advice to our students and staff via our web pages, our social media accounts, and via email in the first instance.

If you are concerned about coronavirus on campus, you should contact Wellbeing Support Services.


6) What can I do to help?

The IFRC (International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) has launched a global appeal. They do excellent work through their national societies which has boots on the ground and mobilises community response. Read more about the global appear here.

We all have a responsibility to remain calm, to only follow guidance from official authorities, avoid spreading gossip and rumours, and to help anyone that is feeling unwell with empathy and support – in the knowledge that it is very unlikely to be the coronavirus. The language that we use when talking about the coronavirus to our friends and colleagues is important in helping our community to stay calm and supportive.

In the unlikely event that someone on campus were to be diagnosed as coronavirus, most cases are mild and the University and UK authorities are well prepared to help support them, and you.