Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

The following advice was issued by the University on 7 February 2020. It contains guidance reflecting new official advice directed at those travelling to the UK from East and South East Asia, as well as UK nationals in China. This update supersedes all previous guidance.

Please view our frequently asked questions for students about coronavirus.

Information about coronavirus

novel coronavirus (COVID-19) 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, 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. Those who have died in Wuhan appear to have had pre-existing health conditions.

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

On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a public health emergency of international concern. In the light of that declaration, the UK Chief Medical Officers raised the risk to the public from low to moderate.  

They say that this permits the government to plan for all eventualities, and make it clear that the risk to individuals remains low. 

On 6 February, the UK Chief Medical Officers issued new advice to anyone travelling to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the previous 14 days and is experiencing cough or fever or shortness of breath, to stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if symptoms are mild. 

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

As a ‘highly precautionary measure’, the UK Government has issued the following advice to individuals who have arrived from Hubei Province in the past 14 days:

If you have returned from Hubei Province to the UK in the last 14 days you should immediately:

  • stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with other flu viruses
  • contact 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.

All members of the University (staff and students) and academic visitors who have travelled here from 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 Leeds. They should avoid close contact with other people as much as possible, and in particular they should not come to lectures and classes and 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 your school if you are isolating yourself in accordance with the above advice. Staff (and academic visitors) should do so by e-mailing their head of school.  Students should contact their School Student Support Office and, if they live in University accommodation, should also inform the hall warden or equivalent.

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

Advice for staff and students who have recently arrived from other part of China and other specified areas. 

This advice applies to travellers who have arrived in the UK from the following areas:

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

If you have arrived in the UK from 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  

Please follow this advice even if your symptoms are mild. 

You should inform your school if you are isolating yourself in accordance with the above advice. Staff (and academic visitors) should do so by e-mailing their head of school. Students should contact their School Student Support office and, if they live in University accommodation, should also inform the hall warden of equivalent.

Staff and students currently in China

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising against all travel to Hubei Province, and all but essential travel to mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macau). It is also advising UK nationals in China to leave if they can. 

The University is therefore now seeking to remove from mainland China all staff and students currently in the country on University business. The University will be liaising with staff and students individually to facilitate their return as quickly as possible. 

If you are a member of staff currently working in mainland China and have not been contacted by anyone at the University, please contact your head of school at your earliest convenience. 

If you are currently studying in China and have not had contact with anyone at the University, please contact the Study Abroad Office (outgoingstudyabroad@leeds.ac.uk or +44(0)113 3430046) at your earliest convenience.

Advice for staff and students considering travel to China

As noted above, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising 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. 

The University will contact students individually who are due to travel to China within the next few weeks to discuss options. If you are due to go to China and have not heard anything, please contact your school at your earliest convenience.

For all other overseas travel (that is, travel other than mainland China), the normal University travel processes should be followed – including the production of a risk assessment informed by FCO advice and input from our Health and Safety Services. For support or advice on completion of a risk assessment, please contact your local health and safety manager or e-mail Health and Safety Services.

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, covering your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough, and keeping kitchens clean.

As a matter of general good practice, all students should ensure that they are registered with a local doctor. Most students choose to register with the Leeds Student Medical Practice which is near the University campus. (Find information on how to register with them or alternative local doctors.)

Students should also check that their vaccinations are up to date. In particular, if you did not have the Meningitis vaccination before you arrived in Leeds, you should book an appointment for this with your doctor.  

Sources of information

See our frequently asked questions on coronavirus. You can get information from the Government’s website and also the following websites: