Coronavirus information

There has been an outbreak of coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has since spread, with infected individuals now being identified in other countries. The University continues to monitor the situation closely and is taking advice from the health board and government. 

We encourage all students and staff to check regularly advice and information from local health authorities and updates from the University:

Daily situation updates are available from the World Health Organization and daily briefings by the National Health Commission of the PRC, and the latest official travel advisory from the FCO together with a Q&A on the coronavirus prepared by the FCO

Latest travel advice

A number of students and staff have asked about possible future disruption when travelling to affected countries, with particular concern around the impact on planned University trips and events in the coming months.

It is not possible to predict the future evolution of the coronavirus at present and how it may impact travel arrangements. The University is, however, following all UK Government travel advice, which can change depending on the perceived risk to travellers at a given point.

We recommend all students and staff arrange future travel plans to affected countries as flexibly as possible, which includes making bookings on a flexible / refundable basis for travel and accommodation without penalty for cancellation.

A travel declaration form should be completed for all planned University travel, and the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice, and this page, should be regularly monitored in advance of travel to take into account latest advice and also guidance about additional precautions that might be required before, during and after travel. If you are a student and have further questions or need advice please raise these with your Academic Supervisor in the first instance. Similarly, if you are a member of staff, questions should be raised with your Line Manager.

Frequently Asked Questions – last updated on 12/02/20

What is the coronavirus?

A coronavirus is a type of respiratory virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world, seasonal influenza is a coronavirus. 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. Novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.

What are the symptoms?
Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever, runny nose, a cough or a shortness of breath that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing breathing difficulties. Please be aware that these symptoms are similar to influenza and other respiratory viruses.
What are the precautionary measures I should take?
  • Ensure good hand hygiene – wash your hands regularly with soap and hot water or use an alcohol gel if no soap or hot water is available.
  • Ensure good respiratory hygiene – cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing using a flexed elbow or disposable tissue if possible, and put the tissue in the bin immediately after and wash your hands.
  • Do not visit anyone who is ill with flu-like symptoms.
  • Ensure all your food is cooked thoroughly. 
  • When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.
Is it safe for me to attend campus and lectures?
Health authorities in the UK (HPS/PHE) Dubai (DHA) and Malaysia (MoH) have stated that the risk of infection to individuals is low. You should continue as normal, being conscious of the good hygiene practices described above, which will help prevent the spread of any coronavirus, including this outbreak and the regular seasonal influenza. The safety and wellbeing of staff and students is paramount, and we are continuously monitoring the situation for further changes. If you have any concerns please speak to your line manager (staff) or your personal tutor (student).
What is the advice on travel to and from China?
We follow UK Government policy with regards to travelling on University business or for study. The current guidance from Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all but essential travel to the mainland China (with the exception of Hong Kong and Macao). This has the effect of banning all University trips by staff and students immediately as no University travel is classed as ‘essential’. If you have travel or insurance related queries, please contact Assurance Services at assurance@hw.ac.uk
Is it safe to travel to countries other than China where there are confirmed cases of the Coronavirus?
As long as the FCO guidance for those countries does not advise against travel then it remains safe to travel to those countries. The University has a duty of care to all its students and staff to ensure their wellbeing when travelling for the purposes of University study or work. All students and staff must complete a Travel Declaration for each trip in advance of booking any travel. Assurance Services review every Travel Declaration prior to approving travel. The coronavirus outbreak has reaffirmed the importance of completing Travel Declarations for all trips. Travel Declarations can be completed at the following link – https://heriotwatt.info-exchange.com/TravelDeclaration
I am not a UK national. Do I still have to follow FCO guidance
All Heriot-Watt students and staff must adhere to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) guidance at all times. Non-UK nationals must also follow the advice of their home-governments should that differ from the UK Government advice.
What do I do if I begin to feel unwell while travelling?
All travellers must download the SafeZone app and can use this to request assistance. The University’s insurer and medical assistance helpline is available 24/7 on +44 (0)1489 868 888 where you should quote policy number 711483418.
I returned from Wuhan or Hubei Province within the last 14 days, what do I do?
You should stay at home for 14 days and do not go to your place or work, study or public areas. Contact your local health provider informing them of your recent travels:
  • In the UK contact the National Health Service (NHS) on 111 or call the helpline 0800 028 2816 even if you do not have symptoms.
  • In Dubai you should notify 'Estijaba' service at the operation center – Department of Health at 8001717, or Ministry of Health and Prevention at 80011111 or Dubai Health Authority at 800342
  • In Malaysia you should notify your local doctor.
You should also notify the University that you are self-isolating so we can offer additional support. Please contact SafeGuarding through the SafeZone enquiries button, dial +44 (0) 451 3500 or email SafeGuarding@hw.ac.uk
What advice should I follow if I am studying in another campus?
If you are participating in our Go Global programmes in Malaysia, Dubai or in the UK, we recommend you follow any instructions given by the campus where you are studying and regularly check for updates in the Student Portal.
What do I do if I think my flatmate is unwell with the virus?
If your flatmate is unwell and has recently travelled back from China, ask them to remain in their room and have them call their local health provider informing them of their recent travels, they will provide further advice. Also notify the University so we can offer additional support. Please contact SafeGuarding through the SafeZone enquiries button, dial +44 (0) 451 3500 or email SafeGuarding@hw.ac.uk o In the UK you should notify the NHS on 111 o In Dubai you should notify “Estijaba" service at the operation center – Department of Health at 8001717, or Ministry of Health & Prevention at 80011111 or Dubai Health Authority at 800342 o In Malaysia you should notify your local doctor
Where can I get support if I am worried about family or friends in China?
If you are worried about friends and family members who live or are travelling in areas impacted by coronavirus, please contact Student Wellbeing Services or, if you are a member of staff, Human Resources. You can also seek advice from the Confucius Institute located in the Edinburgh campus, Postgraduate Centre (PG1.01), between 10:30 and 13:00 Monday to Friday. Remember that SafeGuarding Services is also available 24/7 for support.
I returned from elsewhere in China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau within the last 14 days, what do I do
If you have travelled from: elsewhere in China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong or Macau in the last 14 days and feel unwell with symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath, you should: stay at home and do not go to your place of study, work or public areas. Notify your local health provider informing them of your recent travels, they will provide further advice. If in the UK then contact the National Health Service (NHS) on 111. If in Dubai you should notify “Estijaba" service at the operation center – Department of Health at 8001717, or Ministry of Health & Prevention at 80011111 or Dubai Health Authority at 800342. In Malaysia you should notify your local doctor. You should also notify the University that you are self-isolating so we can offer additional support. Please contact SafeGuarding through the SafeZone enquiries button, dial +44 (0) 451 3500 or email SafeGuarding@hw.ac.uk
What if I’m going to study/work at the UK Campuses?
The University follows UK Government policy with regards to travelling on University business at all times as advised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice. The FCO provides advice for travellers returning to the UK depending on where they have come from. We expect the FCO advice will be regularly updated to reflect this emerging situation.
 
The University will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updated travel advice on this page. For those intending to travel on University business in the near future, we would like to remind everyone that all individuals should assess the risks of their particular trip given:
 
- the location(s) of their trip and proximity to any declared outbreaks
- their own health and any related issues which may compromise their immune response.
 
The concerns raised by this outbreak underline the importance of completing Heriot-Watt’s travel declaration form prior to travel. It is available on the Staff Portal or Student Portal and ensures the University knows where you are during your trip and can provide assistance if required. Staff travel booked using Heriot-Watt’s suppliers, Key Travel, also provides access to travel advice and extra support beyond what you receive if making the arrangements by other means.
 
If you are currently planning to travel or are organising travel for others, please check the FCO website for up-to-date travel and health advice on the countries you are travelling to. If you have any further concerns, please contact your Academic Supervisor (Students) or line manager (Staff) in the first instance who will ensure you receive advice and support.
 
All travellers must download the SafeZone app and can use this to request assistance.
What should I do if I am planning to travel around South East Asia for a personal trip?
Many students and staff based at the Malaysia Campus visit other countries and areas around South East Asia for holidays and leisure activities. If personal trips are outside Malaysia then please note that they would generally not be covered by the University’s travel insurance policy and you should take out sufficient personal travel insurance to cover you for your trip.
 
If this is a personal trip then you do not need to complete a travel declaration as this is used to record travel on University business (e.g. travel for study). The University follows the UK Government travel advice at all times which is issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and is country specific. Whilst the University is not responsible for you on personal trips, we strongly recommend that you also follow the advice and guidance found on the FCO website at all times. This includes advice on whether it is safe to travel to a particular country, advice on health and security, including advice on Coronavirus, and advice on what to do when returning from a trip e.g. whether it is necessary to self-isolate for example.
 
A number of countries have been highlighted by the FCO guidance as having outbreaks of the virus and the advice recommends that individuals should self-isolate for 14 days if you develop symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath. All travellers must download the SafeZone app and can use this to request assistance.
What if I’m going to study/work at the Dubai Campus?
The University follows UK Government policy with regards to travelling on University business at all times as advised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice. The current situation as of today (Wednesday 12th February 2020) is that it remains safe to travel to Dubai, and other affected countries, taking into account FCO guidance on any restrictions and observing appropriate precautions. We expect the FCO advice will be regularly updated to reflect this emerging situation.
 
The University will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updated travel advice on this page. For those intending to travel on University business in the near future, we would like to remind everyone that all individuals should assess the risks of their particular trip given:
 
- the location(s) of their trip and proximity to any declared outbreaks
- their own health and any related issues which may compromise their immune response
 
The concerns raised by this outbreak underline the importance of completing Heriot-Watt’s travel declaration form prior to travel. It is available on the Staff Portal or Student Portal and ensures the University knows where you are during your trip and can provide assistance if required. Staff travel booked using Heriot-Watt’s suppliers, Key Travel, also provides access to travel advice and extra support beyond what you receive if making the arrangements by other means.
 
All travellers must download the SafeZone app and can use this to request assistance. If you are currently planning to travel or are organising travel for others, please check the FCO website for up-to-date travel and health advice on the countries you are travelling to.
 
If you have any further concerns, please contact your Academic Supervisor (students) or line manager (staff) in the first instance who will ensure you receive advice and support.
 

All travellers must download the SafeZone app and can use this to request assistance.

What if I’m going to study/work at the Malaysia Campus?
The University follows UK Government policy with regards to travelling on University business at all times as advised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice. The current situation as of today (Wednesday 12th February 2020) is that it remains safe to travel to Malaysia, and other affected countries, taking into account FCO guidance on any restrictions and observing appropriate precautions. We expect the FCO advice will be regularly updated to reflect this emerging situation.
 
The University will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updated travel advice on this page. For those intending to travel on University business in the near future, we would like to remind everyone that all individuals should assess the risks of their particular trip given:
 
- the location(s) of their trip and proximity to any declared outbreaks
- their own health and any related issues which may compromise their immune response
 
The concerns raised by this outbreak underline the importance of completing Heriot-Watt’s travel declaration form prior to travel. It is available on the Staff Portal or Student Portal and ensures the University knows where you are during your trip and can provide assistance if required. Staff travel booked using Heriot-Watt’s suppliers, Key Travel, also provides access to travel advice and extra support beyond what you receive if making the arrangements by other means.
 
If you are currently planning to travel or are organising travel for others, please check the FCO website for up-to-date travel and health advice on the countries you are travelling to. If you have any further concerns, please contact your Academic Supervisor (Students) or line manager (Staff) in the first instance who will ensure you receive advice and support.
 
All travellers must download the SafeZone app and can use this to request assistance.
 
The FCO advice for Malaysia recommends that individuals should self-isolate for 14 days if you develop symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath (The FCO Malaysia page gives more information on this).
What should I do if I am planning a trip on University business or for study?
The concerns raised by this outbreak underline the importance of completing Heriot-Watt’s travel declaration form prior to travel. It is available on the Staff Portal or Student Portal and ensures the University knows where you are during your trip and can provide assistance if required. Staff travel booked using Heriot-Watt’s suppliers, Key Travel, also provides access to travel advice and extra support beyond what you receive if making the arrangements by other means.
 
If you are currently planning to travel or are organising travel for others, please check the FCO website for up-to-date travel and health advice on the countries you are travelling to. If you have any further concerns, please contact your Academic Supervisor (Students) or line manager (Staff) in the first instance who will ensure you receive advice and support.
 
The University follows UK Government policy with regards to travelling on University business at all times as advised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice.
 
The University will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updated travel advice on this page. For those intending to travel on University business in the near future, we would like to remind everyone that all individuals should assess the risks of their particular trip given:
 
- the location(s) of their trip and proximity to any declared outbreaks
- their own health and any related issues which may compromise their immune response
 
All travellers must download the SafeZone app and can use this to request assistance.
I have returned to my home/host Campus from a University trip or holiday from an affected area, should I self-isolate?
If you have travelled from:
elsewhere in China
Thailand
Japan
Republic of Korea
Taiwan
Singapore 
Malaysia
Hong Kong
Macau
in the last 14 days and feel unwell with symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath, you should: stay at home and do not go to your place of study, work or public areas. Notify your local health provider informing them of your recent travels, they will provide further advice.
 
If in the UK then contact the National Health Service (NHS) on 111.
If in Dubai you should notify “Estijaba" service at the operation center – Department of Health at 8001717, or Ministry of Health & Prevention at 80011111 or Dubai Health Authority at 800342.
In Malaysia, you should notify your local doctor.
 
You should also notify the University that you are self-isolating so we can offer additional support. Please contact SafeGuarding through the SafeZone enquiries button, dial +44 (0) 451 3500 or email SafeGuarding@hw.ac.uk

 

University contact information

For the University main reception:

T: 0131 451 3501

 

For all media enquiries to the University contact:

Craig McManamon

Media Relations Officer

T: 0131 451 8099

 

Susan Kerr

Media Relations Officer

T: 0131 451 3242

To send an email to the media team: mediaenquiries@hw.ac.uk 

Out of hours: 07702 961 005