Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) frequently asked questions

We've put together some questions and answers you may have about novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

This page will be updated regularly to reflect the current government advice on novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Last updated 7 February 2020 at 4.45pm

What is Coronavirus?

A coronavirus is a type of virus which is common across the world. Typical symptoms include fever and a cough which may lead to shortness of breath and severe breathing difficulties.  novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.

Read the Government information about novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Government information is being updated daily so please check regularly for changes.

I have just arrived back from Hubei Province China in January. Do I need to quarantine myself?

If you have arrived from Hubei Province (including Wuhan) within the last 2 weeks, the Government is advising that you ‘self-isolate’. That means you should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people for 14 days after your arrival from Wuhan or Hubei Province. You should telephone NHS 111 for advice.

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. See the NHS information about coronavirus.

If you feel unwell during the time you are self-isolating you must contact NHS 111 immediately. 

It is very important to let your school know if you are self-isolating. Contact them to register your absence and keep in touch with them so that they can support you and advise you how best to keep up with your studies.

Make sure that your friends and the staff in your residence know that you are self-isolating so that they can support you, make sure you are OK and that you have regular meals and anything else you need.

If you are not sure if this advice applies to you, contact the International Student Office or the Student Help and Support in Leeds University Union for help.

I have just arrived back from elsewhere in East and South East Asia. Do I need to quarantine myself?

As of 6 February, the UK Chief Medical Officers have issued advice to anyone who has travelled to the UK from:

  • mainland 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, the Government is advising that you ‘self-isolate’. That means you should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people and telephone NHS 111 for advice even if your symptoms are mild.

If you do not have the above symptoms, you may engage with University activities as normal – but please check this site daily in case the advice changes.

If you are not sure if this advice applies to you, contact the International Student Office or the Student Help and Support in Leeds University Union for help.

I have visited other parts of China in the last two weeks and I came into contact with someone who has since been confirmed as having the virus: what should I do?

You should ‘self-isolate’. That means you should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people for 14 days after your departure from China. You should telephone NHS 111 for advice and you may be asked to provide further information about the contact you had.

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. See the NHS information about coronavirus.

If you feel unwell during the time you are self-isolating you must contact NHS 111 immediately.

I am due to go to China in February.  Should I go and will I be allowed back to Leeds?

The University does not currently permit travel to China on University business, and discourages individuals from travelling to China for personal reasons.  (The Government is advising against all but essential travel to mainland China, and is advising against all travel to Wuhan and the rest of Hubei Province.)
If you were due to go to China as part of your programme of study, your school will be in touch with you.

I am planning to attend a summer school in China this summer, will I still be able to?

We will not be offering places at the Wuhan University summer school this year. At the moment travel to Wuhan is not permitted and it is unclear when travel restrictions will be lifted. We are working with our university partners around the world to monitor the impact of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We are anticipating some disruption to programmes and summer school placements might be cancelled. For more information please contact the Study Abroad Office at outgoingstudyabroad@leeds.ac.uk.

I was supposed to return to Leeds but I am not able to as the flights are all cancelled. What should I do?

Contact your school as soon as possible and tell them what has happened, and then keep in touch with them regularly to let them know what is happening.  They will advise you as soon as they can what to do about being absent, and about how to keep up with your studies.

I am worried about contracting the coronavirus and it is affecting my studies

Although the UK’s Medical Officers raised the risk to the public from low to moderate as from 31 January 2020, this does not mean that they think the risk to individuals in the UK has changed at this stage; it means that government should plan for all eventualities - it still considers that the risk to individuals in the UK is low.

Bear in mind that this is a time of year when many people in the UK suffer from coughs and colds and everyone is recommended to look after themselves to reduce the risk of infection. This includes washing hands regularly, covering your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough, and keeping kitchens clean.

How can I keep myself healthy? 

Make sure you 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.)

You should also check that your 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.

Remember, it is important to stay healthy and reduce the risk of infection by washing hands regularly, covering your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough, and keeping kitchens clean. 

We understand that this situation may affect our students in different ways and you may need practical help, emotional support or expert advice. View our information about campus support services.

You can check the latest advice from Public Health England and find out information about healthcare in Leeds.

Is it OK to wear a face mask in class?

It is not necessary to wear a face mask but some students do choose to wear one to protect themselves from air pollution and to prevent illness from spreading.  It is OK to do this.  However, it is more important to stay healthy and reduce the risk of infection by washing hands regularly, covering your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough, and keeping kitchens clean.

If I can’t attend classes will this affect my Tier 4 visa?

If you are self-isolating you should discuss the situation with your school. Your absence will count as authorised and there will be no problem with your attendance record if you are following government advice.

If you have any questions about your visa please contact the advice team in the International Student Office.

We understand that this situation may affect students in different ways and you may need practical help, emotional support or expert advice. View our information about campus support services.