Wuhan Novel Coronavirus

Information about the Wuhan novel coronavirus

Published 04 February 2020
Last updated 18 February 2020

Wuhan novel coronavirus is a new strain of virus first identified in Wuhan City, China. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

Based on current evidence, Wuhan novel coronavirus presents with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild. 

On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that the outbreak of Wuhan novel coronavirus is a public health emergency of international concern. In the light of that declaration, the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate.

In a statement released on 30 January, they say this does not mean that they think the risk to individuals in the UK has changed at this stage, but that government should plan for all eventualities. Public Health England advice for travellers from Wuhan remains unchanged.

The new virus is understood to have an incubation period of up to 14 days.

Advice for travellers

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised UK nationals to avoid travel to China and for those already in China, to leave the country where possible. If the situation continues to escalate the pressure on the Chinese health system may intensify, and it may also become harder for people to travel.  The University is following the FCO’s advice strictly, and has suspended all travel to China by students or staff.

There is additional advice for those returning from Wuhan or mainland China.

Advice for staff and students who have recently returned from Wuhan and Hubei Province

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

  • Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people 
  • Isolate yourself if possible
  • Contact NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel

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

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

All members of the University (staff and students) and academic visitors who have travelled here from Wuhan or Hubei Province in the last 14 days should follow this advice by isolating themselves, so far as possible, for 14 days after the date of their arrival in London. They should avoid close contact with other people as much as possible, and in particular they should not come into the University for lectures and classes or any other reason. More generally they should avoid public places.

Any individuals isolating themselves in this way may resume normal University and social activities at the end of the 14-day period provided that they have not developed a fever, difficulty in breathing or a cough (in which case they should contact NHS 111 as advised above).

You should inform the Student Hub if you are isolating yourself in accordance with the above advice. Staff (and academic visitors) should inform their line manager.

Appropriate arrangements will be made to provide necessary pastoral and practical support for students who isolate themselves as a result of following the above advice. Similarly, appropriate arrangements will be made in respect of lectures and classes that students cannot attend because they are isolating themselves.

Note that the particular Government advice set out above only applies to those who have travelled from Wuhan or Hubei Province in the past 14 days; it does not apply to those who have come here from other parts of China. Such individuals should follow the advice below.

Advice for staff and students who have recently returned from elsewhere in China and other specified areas

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 have returned to the UK from elsewhere in mainland China or any of these areas in the last 14 days AND develop symptoms of cough, 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.

You should inform the Student Hub if you are isolating yourself in accordance with the above advice. Staff (and academic visitors) should inform their line manager.

*  If you have no symptoms, you may engage in University activities as normal, but please check this page regularly for any updated guidance.

Advice for staff and students currently in China

From 28 January the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all but essential travel to mainland China. From 4 February the FCO has advised all UK nationals to leave China where possible.

We are not aware of any students or staff who are currently in China. If you are in China or have an imminent journey planned, please contact the Student Hub or your line manager immediately.

Advice for staff and students considering travel to China

As noted above, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all but essential travel to mainland China.

The University will not be sending students or staff to mainland China while this FCO advice remains in place.

For all other overseas travel (that is, travel other than mainland China), the normal University travel procedures should be followed.

Advice for Chinese students unable to return to China

On 17 February, the government published new guidance on immigration provisions made by the Home Office for individuals in the UK who are unable to return to China.
 
The guidance says: “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 United Kingdom. The Home Office understands that in many cases this is because of circumstances outside of your control.
 
“Subject to the below guidance, most people in the UK whose immigration status is affected by the coronavirus outbreak will get an automatic extension of their visa until 31 March 2020.”
 
More detail is included on the GOV.UK website on visa-related issues.

It also provides details of the Coronavirus Immigration Helpline which will be open from 9am on 18 February 2020 [Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) Calls are free of charge. Email: [email protected]]

General health advice

This is a time of year when many people in the UK suffer from coughs and colds.  Everyone is recommended to follow the usual hygiene precautions in daily life to reduce the risk of infection, such as washing hands regularly, and covering your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough.

As a matter of general good practice, all students should ensure that they are registered with a local doctor. There is information on how to do in the Student Essentials Guide.

Students should also check that their vaccinations are up to date.

Sources of information

You can get information from the Government’s website and also the following websites:

Public Health England (PHE)
World Health Organisation (WHO)
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

The content of this notice has been sourced from the FCO, PHE, and Universities UK. It will be reviewed daily and republished where changes are needed.  Please continue to keep up to date with the advice.