Advice and information on the coronavirus situation

Updated 14 February 2020

As this is a constantly changing situation which is being closely monitored, we will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available.   On 1 February the Australian Government introduced new temporary travel restrictions as a result of the novel coronavirus. The travel restrictions have been extended.

 

FAQs

These frequently asked questions and answers have been adapted from NSW Health’s novel coronavirus FAQs.

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses found in animals and humans. They can range from mild diseases like the common cold to more serious ones.

A novel coronavirus is one that hasn't been identified in humans before. The 2019-nCoV virus is related to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and in the same family as MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) coronavirus.

NSW Health have advised the risk of contracting the virus is extremely small without close contact.

As of the morning of 2 February 2020, 12 cases of 2019-nCoV have been confirmed in Australia, four are in New South Wales. NSW Health have implemented a range of measures to identify cases and prevent transmission in NSW. 

What does ‘close contact’ mean?

Close contact is defined as someone who has been face-to-face for at least 15 minutes or been in the same closed space for at least two hours, as someone who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus when that person was infectious.

NSW Health have processes in place to identify and get in touch with any close contacts of cases confirmed in NSW.  

How is the novel coronavirus spread? Can I catch it? 

Experts believe the novel coronavirus originated in animal species and spread to humans. It’s reported the disease can spread person-to-person, but how and how easily are not yet understood. 

Other human coronavirus strains are spread from person-to-person through contaminated droplets from a person who is sick with the illness (through coughing or sneezing) or hands that haven’t been washed thoroughly. 

How do I wash my hands thoroughly? 

  • Wet hands with soap and water.
  • Wash hands together for at least 15-20 seconds, making sure you wash your thumbs, between your fingers and the backs of your hands. 
  • Rinse hands with water.
  • Dry thoroughly (preferably with a single-use towel). 


Where have active cases of coronavirus been diagnosed? 

You can find the latest information on confirmed cases at International SOS.  

In addition to our regular cleaning schedule, we're also increasing how often we clean and sanitize tables in common contact points – door handles, lift controls and table surfaces. We have additional hand sanitiser available in bathrooms/toilets, kitchen areas, student lounges and the Student Centre.

Who can come on campus? 

New advice from the Australian Government Chief Medical Officer states that people who have been in contact with any confirmed novel coronavirus cases must be isolated in their home for 14 days following exposure. 

People who have arrived in Australia on or after 1 Februray and have been in mainland China must be isolated in their home for 14 days after leaving mainland China, other than for seeking individual medical care. If you’re feeling unwell, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

People who have arrived in Australia from Hubei Province in the past 14 days must be isolated in their home for 14 days after leaving Hubei Province , other than for seeking individual medical care. If you’re feeling unwell, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

And remember, people wearing masks may be taking preventative measures for themselves or protecting themselves from air pollution – they aren’t necessarily sick. 

What are the symptoms of coronavirus? 

The most common symptom is a fever. Other symptoms include a cough, sore throat and shortness of breath. Early symptoms to watch for are chills, body aches, sore throat, headache and runny nose, muscle pain or diarrhoea. 

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia with severe acute respiratory distress. 
Any members of the UTS Insearch community who is unwell or concerned about their health should contact their doctor. 

How long do symptoms take to appear? 

It’s unknown at this stage, but most likely between two and 14 days. 

I think I have symptoms. What should I do? 

If you have travelled to an affected area in the past 14 days or have been in contact with any confirmed novel coronavirus case and have a fever and respiratory signs and other symptoms, don’t panic and take the following steps and actions: 

  • Stay isolated in your home for 14 days other than for seeking individual medical care. 
  • Don’t attend campus. 
  • Call ahead and see a doctor (or your nearest hospital emergency room) as soon as possible. Make sure you tell them you’ve recently been to an affected area or been in contact with confirmed novel coronavirus case. 
  • If your usual doctor is based in the UTS Medical Centre, call the centre on 9514 1777 during business hours to speak with a medical professional. We can assist in directing you to the appropriate health care provider whether that’s a hospital or other medical support.
  • Follow NSW Department of Health’s advice on general hygiene
  • Practise good hygiene by covering your coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow, and washing your hands thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. 


What should I do if I come into contact with a person who has symptoms, or who I think has returned to Australia recently from an affected area? 

If it is a confirmed novel coronavirus case you must be isolated in your home for 14 days following exposure. 

Monitor your health. If you develop symptoms (as listed above), please call ahead to talk to a doctor. Tell your doctor that you have been in contact with someone from an area affected by coronavirus and follow their advice.  
 
You can also follow good hygiene by: 

  • covering any coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow
  • washing your hands thoroughly  
  • carrying hand sanitiser for use in the event soap and water are not readily available 
  • avoid touching your face. 


How can I protect myself and my family? 

Avoid contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.  

You can also follow simple hygiene by: 

  • covering your coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow
  • washing your hands thoroughly  
  • carrying hand sanitiser for use in the event soap and water are not readily available  
  • avoid touching your face. 


I’ve seen other people wearing masks. Should I be concerned?

Wearing a face mask is a personal choice. People wearing masks may be taking preventative measures for themselves or protecting themselves from air pollution – they aren’t necessarily sick. Masks can be purchased from most local pharmacies and some hardware stores.

Should I wear a face mask?  

If you have symptoms, or think you might have been infected with coronavirus, visit your nearest emergency department as soon as possible. And, you can wear a surgical (or P2) mask to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to anyone else. 

If you are well, the Australian Government’s Department of Health says:

  • Face masks are not recommended. A face mask will not protect you against becoming infected. While the use of face masks can help to prevent transmission of disease from infected patients to others, face masks are not currently recommended for use by healthy members of the public for the prevention of infections like novel coronavirus.
  • People wearing masks may be being polite, taking extra preventative measures or protecting themselves from air pollution. Wearing a mask doesn’t necessarily mean the person is sick.

Should I isolate myself?

NSW Health advises:

  • If you have been in contact with a person with confirmed novel coronavirus infection while they were infectious, you must quarantine (isolate) yourself for 14 days after your last contact with that person.
  • If you have recently returned from travel to Hubei Province, you must isolate yourself for 14 days after you left Hubei Province.
  • If you have been in, or transited through, mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) on or after 1 February you must isolate yourself at home for 14 days after you left China.​
If I am required to self-isolate, what guidelines should I follow?
NSW Health offers this advice for: Material is also available in Chinese:

Can I enter Australia from China?

On Saturday 1 February, the Australian Prime Minister announced new travel restrictions:

  • Effective 1 February, foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents) who are in mainland China will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited through mainland China.
  • Australian citizens and permanent residents are still able to enter Australia, as are their immediate family members.
  • This is a temporary measure, and has now been extended
Stay up-to-date with immigration information from Australian Border Force.


I’ve recently travelled to a region directly affected by coronavirus. Can I return to campus?

Students returning from Hubei Provence  must be isolated in their home for 14 days after leaving Hubei Provence, other than for seeking individual medical care. From 1 February, students returning from mainland China must be isolated in their home for 14 days after leaving mainland China other than for seeking individual medical care. Anyone who has had close contact with someone who has a confirmed case must be isolated in their home for 14 days, other than for seeking individual medical care.

If you develop a fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath (other early symptoms to watch for are chills, body aches, sore throat, headache and runny nose, muscle pain or diarrhoea) within 14 days of exposure, you should:  

  • immediately isolate yourself from other people
  • wear a mask (if available)  
  • seek medical attention as soon as possible, preferably at the local Emergency Department - ideally you should phone ahead to speak to the doctor in the emergency department so that appropriate arrangements can be made to protect others.

I have had trouble accessing my accommodation in Sydney because of concerns about coronavirus, what should I do?

Please to contact our Welfare Team Leader Robert Brennan if you require urgent accommodation support.
 
I’m currently affected by large scale lockdowns and isolations and can’t return to UTS Insearch or commence on time. Will this affect my studies?

If you’re a new student and have been blocked from travelling to Australia because of Coronavirus lockdowns, please contact our Admissions team or your Channel Partner to discuss your enrolment and study plan options.

If you’re a continuing or current student and have been blocked from travelling to Australia because of Coronavirus lockdowns, please contact our Student Centre.

If you are in a category of people that needs to isolate themselves for 14 days prior to returning to campus, please to contact our Welfare Team Leader Robert Brennan in case you require any support or assistance.

How is Medibank supporting students?

Medibank’s 24/7 Student Health and Support Line can help provide students with guidance on what action to take. Students with Medibank Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) can call and speak with a nurse about any health issue by calling 1800 887 283, and they can arrange an interpreter if required.

While there are currently no specific treatments for novel coronavirus, in the unlikely case a student has the coronavirus, Medibank OSHC can still help them get the medical support they need in Australia with qualified health professionals.

 

Can I enter Australia?
On Saturday 1 February, the Australian Prime Minster announced new travel restrictions:

  • Effective 1 February, foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents) who are in mainland China will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited through mainland China.
  • Australian citizens and permanent residents are still able to enter Australia, as are their immediate family members.
  • This is a temporary measure and has been extended.


I have a holiday or work trip planned. Should I cancel my trip? 

If you are considering travelling to/with-in destinations which may have been affected, check the advice on Smart Traveller, and monitor International SOS for travel advice (select your destination on the right to see a risk summary). 

International SOS also advises travellers to:  

  • Maintain flexible itineraries accounting for additional time required for health and temperature screening at airports, railway stations, docks and long-haul bus stations.
  • Arrive early at transport hubs.
  • Avoid direct contact with animals (live or dead) and their environment and: 
    • don't visit wet markets or farms 
    • don't touch surfaces that may be contaminated with droppings.
  • Keep some distance from people who are obviously sick. 
  • Maintain good personal hygiene by: 
    • washing your hands frequently 
    • carrying hand sanitiser for use when soap and water are not readily available 
    • avoid touching your face. 
  • Ensure any food you’re consuming, including eggs, is thoroughly cooked. 
  • Don’t travel if you’re sick. Some locations have implemented screening, and travellers may face quarantine and testing. 
  • If you develop symptoms when overseas (use the UTS “International SOS Members access” number 12AYCA000095 to gain access), particularly fever or shortness of breath, seek medical attention and: 
    • Limit your contact with other people as much as possible. 
    • Let the medical facility know about your travel history and any potential exposures. 
    • Monitor the latest information on the virus, as well as any quarantine and isolation procedures being implemented at both your origin and destination. 


Where can I find more information? 

We will monitor and update this page as required. If you have any questions or concerns, you can also visit: