Coronavirus

Coronavirus in China: advice and guidance – updated 19 February 2020

As you would expect, the University is closely monitoring the coronavirus issue.

A student on our campus was recently admitted to hospital for tests (Monday 10 February). It has been confirmed they do not have coronavirus.

It is likely that over the coming days there will be many people living in the UK who will be tested for the virus, as medical professionals work hard to manage the virus. The University will be providing support to students and staff who may have concerns and that will always remain our number one priority.

If there is any information to share, in relation to anyone in our community testing positive for the virus, we will inform our staff and students at the earliest opportunity.

The University has stringent plans and procedures in place to deal with all eventualities and we are following all the advice and guidance from Public Health England in this regard.

Please remember, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus amongst our students and staff.

Public Health England advice

Public Health England have assessed the risk in the UK as moderate.

The University is following guidance from both Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. To keep up to date you can visit the following websites:

Public Health England has provided advice for anyone who has returned from Hubei Province in the past 14 days. People are asked to contact NHS 111 and stay indoors for 14 days after arriving from Hubei Province and avoid contact with other people (as with other flu viruses).

In addition, anyone who has returned from China or any of the other countries listed below, in the last 14 days, and are showing symptoms such as a fever, shortness of breath or a cough should contact NHS 111 and stay indoors and avoid contact with other people (as with other flu viruses).

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

We are ensuring there is awareness of this advice amongst students – and that they should let us know how we can support them.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice

The FCO are advising against all travel to Hubei Province and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macau). In addition, the British Council China are advising against any educational travel to China in February.

If you are due to travel to China, refer to guidance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Comments from the Vice-Chancellor

In an email to students the Vice-Chancellor stated: “As you would expect the University is following all the guidance from Public Health England in terms of what this could mean for our staff and students. Everything is running as usual and we have clear plans in place to support any student or member of staff, which is in line with Government advice.”

“We are in touch with some students who are restricted from travelling back to Sussex and we are concerned at making sure they are OK. It is especially important that we all show kindness and compassion to our students who are from overseas, who will be finding this a difficult start to the year.”

“The University is proud to have over 2,000 Chinese students and many members of staff are either Chinese or have strong Chinese connections. It is vital at a time of worry and concern that we all are unstinting in our support for them in our words and our behaviours. Any prejudicial behaviours by any member of the University will be treated seriously and I would encourage you to challenge any such behaviour or, if you don't feel able to, report it to someone who can. I’ve met with the Chinese Students & Scholars Association to reassure them of our absolute support and to listen to their experiences since the outbreak began.”

If you have any questions about the virus, please look at the latest information from Public Health England online.

You can also email our Health & Safety team at HealthSafety@sussex.ac.uk.

What happens if I’ve been in contact with someone who has Coronavirus?

If a member of staff or student is diagnosed, the University will continue to follow Public Health England advice and we have stringent procedures in place and we would be in contact with you with any guidance if there was a case reported on campus.

If you are worried about anything you should call NHS 111, who will give you the advice you need to follow. The University will do everything it can to support you if you are concerned. Email HealthSafety@sussex.ac.uk if you have been given advice by NHS 111 and you need support.

I am worried about my health – do I have to come to campus?

The University is running as usual and we do not have any reported instances of Coronavirus amongst our staff or students. If you have a pre-existing medical condition that you are worried about, please call NHS 111 for advice and let your School Office know if any absence needs to be recorded. The University is required by UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) to record attendance for many students to comply with their visas.

What should I do to protect myself from Coronavirus?

Public Health England have offered a lot of advice. Firstly, if you have recently returned from Hubei Province, you must call NHS 111 and stay indoors for 14 days – see the latest UK government Coronavirus information.

Also if you have returned from elsewhere in mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and you are experiencing a cough or fever or shortness of breath, to stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if symptoms are mild.

You should also practice good hygiene at all other times, such regularly washing your hands, using hand sanitiser if available, sneezing into a tissue or your arm if a tissue is not available.

Should I wear a mask?

Some of our community choose to wear face masks for cultural, social and personal reasons. The wearing of a face mask is not necessarily a sign that the wearer is ill with a cold, flu or any other virus. Public Health England do not stress the need to wear a face mask but instead issue this advice [PDF 62KB] to prevent sharing germs. As such, the University will not be asking anyone to wear masks or supplying them, but please remember that some people choose to.

I’m a Chinese national in the UK whose visa recently expired or is about to expire. What should I do?

If you are a Chinese national in the UK and have been compliant with the conditions of your visa prior to the coronavirus outbreak, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have said that 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.
  • You will be subject to the same immigration conditions as your last visa during the extension period.
  • You will not automatically receive a new visa or Biometric Residence Permit card.
  • Your new expiry date (31 March 2020) will be added to UK Visa Immigration’s systems.
  • If you need a status letter confirming this extension, or a new Biometric Residence Permit with a revised expiry date, you should contact the coronavirus immigration helpline.
  • If you have already applied to extend your visa you don’t need to do anything.
  • If you are intending to apply to extend your stay in the UK before 31 March 2020 you should continue to do so.

See more Coronavirus information on GOV.UK.

If you have any questions, email InternationalHR@sussex.ac.uk.

What can I do if I am feeling anxious about Coronavirus?

The Mental Health Foundation, the charity that focuses on the prevention of mental health problems, has issued guidance for staying mentally healthy during the Coronavirus situation.

Try to avoid speculation and look up reputable sources on the situation

Rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety. Having access to good quality information about the virus can help you feel more in control.

You can get up-to-date information and advice on the virus here:

Try to stay connected and remain calm

At times of stress, we work better in company and with support. Try and keep in touch with your friends and family, or contact the University’s Student Life Centre or contact a helpline for emotional support.

It is a good idea to stick to your daily routine. You may also like to focus on the things you can do if you feel able to:

The advice above is good for both our mental and physical health.

Try to anticipate distress

It is usual to feel overwhelmed as we read news about the outbreak, especially if you have experienced a mental health challenge in the past.

It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and remind each other to look after our physical and mental health. We should also be aware of, and avoid increasing, habits that may not be helpful in the long term, like smoking and drinking.

Try not to make assumptions

Don’t judge people and avoid jumping to conclusions about who is responsible for the spread of the disease. The Coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of gender, ethnicity or sex.

A caring and supportive stance improves the chances of prevention and recovery. And remember, it is highly unlikely that a cold or cough are symptoms of coronavirus: over 4,000 have been tested in the UK and only 9 tests have been positive for COVID-19.

Try to manage how you follow the outbreak in the media

There is lots of news coverage about the outbreak. If you find that the news is stressing you out, it’s important to find a balance. It’s best that you don’t avoid all news and that you keep informing and educating yourself, but limit your news intake if it is bothering you.

If you have children, do talk to them

Involving our family and children in our plans for good health is essential. We need to ask children what they have heard about the outbreak and support them.

Don’t avoid the ‘scary topic’ but engage in a way that is understandable to them. We have more advice on talking with your children about world news.