Everything Students Need to Know About the Novel Coronavirus | Top Universities

Everything Students Need to Know About the Novel Coronavirus

By Chloe Lane

Updated August 12, 2021 Updated August 12, 2021

With so many myths going around about the coronavirus, it can be hard to know which information to trust.

Flights have been banned to mainland China and hundreds of people are being kept in incubation. The coverage in the media has caused widespread panic and has been accused of scaremongering the public. The coronavirus is even trending on Twitter.

For students who are feeling a bit overwhelmed by all this information, here is everything we know so far about the novel coronavirus…

What is the Novel Coronavirus?

According to the World Health Organisation (WTO), the coronaviruses are a family of viruses which range from the common cold to more severe illnesses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) which originated in China in 2002. Coronaviruses are transmitted between animals and people.

The Novel Coronavirus (also called covid-19) is a new strand of coronavirus found in animals and humans, which causes respiratory illness. It was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019, and, before this, had not previously been identified in humans.

At the time of writing (10th February 2020) there have been 40,484 people infected and 910 deaths so far.

On January 30th, the WTO declared the novel coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. 

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of the novel coronavirus include a runny nose, sore throat, fever, shortness of breath and coughing.

If left untreated these symptoms could progress into severe pneumonia, kidney failure and breathing difficulties.

The flu and the covid-19 share a lot of common symptoms meaning that it is difficult to differentiate between the two without a test.

Who does it affect?

Anyone can catch the novel coronavirus, but the more severe symptoms have been found most frequently in people with pre-existing weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

Most people who have contracted the virus are expected to make a full recovery.

What can I do to stay safe?

The virus is passed through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The best thing you can do to avoid this illness is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before touching your face. The effectiveness of masks is, at present, unknown.

If you have recently travelled to an area in China where the novel coronavirus has been reported and have had any of the symptoms mentioned above, or been in close contact with someone who has, seek medical attention immediately. The virus may take between two and 14 days to show any symptoms.

I’m an international student studying in China, what should I do?

If you’re currently studying in China, check your country’s foreign office website for further guidelines on travelling back from mainland China. Your university may also issue a statement with university specific advice for students.

Each country will have a slightly different approach to assisting individuals who have recently visited China.

In Australia, for example, there are temporary measures in place, as outlined in the Australian government website; “foreign national students (excluding permanent residents) will not be permitted to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they leave or travel through mainland China.”

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office have recommended that UK nationals currently in mainland China should leave if they are able to do so, noting that it may become harder to access departure options. The UK Government advises that anyone who has been in Wuhan City or Hubei Province in the last 14 days should isolate themselves, whether or not they are showing symptoms of the virus.

The WHO recommends that the follow up contacts of any confirmed covid-19 cases is 14 days. 

What should you do if you are planning to visit mainland China as part of your studies?

In the UK, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have declared that no category of travel to mainland China for university related studies is considered essential at this current time. The advice on travel elsewhere (including Hong Kong) is to take a risk-based approach.

This is because if the situation continues to worsen it may put pressure on the Chinese health system, and it may also become harder to people to travel. For example, some airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic in the UK, have suspended flights to and from China.

If you plan to study in mainland China, it is a good idea not to book any flights, accommodation etc. until told it is safe to do so. 

For the latest information about covid-19, please refer to the World Health Organisation website

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This article was originally published in February 2020 . It was last updated in August 2021

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