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The 2019 Novel Coronavirus: FAQs for ECU staff and students (with Chinese translation)

Tuesday, 04 February 2020

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General information

Q. What is ECU doing about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus?

  • ECU is closely monitoring the outbreak of the coronavirus and acting on the advice of the federal Department of Health, WA Health and DFAT.
  • We have convened an incident management team to ensure there is a coordinated and measured response across the University.
  • As best as possible, we have been checking the registered international travel arrangements of staff and current students and communicating with these people as appropriate.
  • We are continuing to update staff and students across our communications channels and responding to enquiries through our communications centre.

Q. What is the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?

  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). They are found worldwide in humans and animals.
  • A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The novel coronavirus is closely related to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) coronavirus and in the same family as MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) coronavirus.

Q. What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

  • Symptoms of the coronavirus can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, sore throat and runny nose.

Q. Is there support available for staff and students experiencing stress or anxiety as a result of the coronavirus outbreak?  

  • If you do not have symptoms and would like to speak to someone: Students can access ECU’s free confidential counselling on (08) 9370 6706. Staff and their immediate family members can access free confidential counselling support through ECU’s Employee Assistance Program by contacting PeopleSense on 1300 307 912 or 9388 9000.
  • If you do have symptoms, please contact your general practitioner and share your full travel history or contact risk and symptoms when booking your appointment.

Health advice

Q. What should I do if I am feeling unwell?

  • It’s important to stay calm and remember that earlier symptoms of coronavirus are consistent with a range of illnesses, most of which are not considered serious for otherwise healthy people.
  • However, if you have travelled through an affected area or may have been in contact with someone who has, and you develop symptoms, we recommend that as soon as practicable, you contact your healthcare provider and share your full travel history or contact risk, and symptoms with them immediately when booking your appointment (before you attend the clinic). This is so that they can be prepared to keep you and others safe on your arrival.
  • Any members of the ECU community who are unwell or concerned about their health during working hours should likewise contact their treating general practitioner or a health professional. As indicated previously, you should call ahead, explaining your symptoms and travel history, rather than attend in person unannounced.

Q. Who should I call for health advice or information?

  • For over-the-phone advice, the best number to call is the WA Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 300 243 (24 hours a day).
  • If the WA Coronavirus Hotline is busy, call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222 (24 hours a day.
  • For ECU-specific health advice, you can call ECU Student Health Services on (08) 6304 5618 Monday–Friday between 8.30am to 4.30pm.

Q. What should I do if I have recently travelled from China?

  • Staff and students from Hubei Province who have arrived in the past 14 days will need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day that they departed Hubei Province.
  • Staff and students from other provinces of mainland China who arrived on or after 1 February 2020 will need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day they departed mainland China.
  • Staff and students from other provinces of mainland China who arrived prior to 1 February 2020 do not need to self-isolate.
  • Staff and students from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, unless they have been in Hubei Province in the past 14 days or in any part of mainland China on or after 1 February 2020, do not need to self-isolate.
  • If you are in isolation, you should restrict activities outside the home except for seeking medical care. You should not go to work, school or public areas and should not use public transportation, taxis or ride share services.
  • The Australian Department of Health has this advice for home isolation practices, including what to do if you begin to have symptoms while in isolation.

Q. What should I do if I have been in a country other than mainland China to see out the 14-day travel exclusion period?

  • Any students who have travelled to other countries from mainland China to see out the 14-day travel exclusion period, and who have had no recent contact with people with the coronavirus, will be welcomed to Australia.
  • Students who have spent more than 14 days in another country after leaving mainland China do not require quarantine (self-isolation), provided they have not had contact with a confirmed case.
  • The Australian Government cannot recommend transiting through another country prior to arrival in Australia for the sole purpose of circumventing the travel restrictions, as travel restrictions for countries can change at short notice.

Q. What should I do if I have been in contact with a confirmed coronavirus case?

  • The Department of Health requires people who have been in contact with any confirmed coronavirus cases be isolated for 14 days following exposure.
  • You should restrict activities outside the home except for seeking medical care. You should not go to work, school or public areas and should not use public transportation, taxis or ride share services.
  • The Australian Department of Health has this advice for home isolation practices, including what to do if you begin to have symptoms while in isolation.

Q. Do face masks protect against the virus?

  • Australia’s Chief Medical Officer has advised that face masks are not recommended or necessary for the general public.
  • The only people who should wear masks in relation to the coronavirus are those who are unwell and have a relevant travel history.

Q. What other precautions can I take to protect my health?

  • The World Health Organisation recommends people:
    • frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
    • when coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue, then throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands
    • avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough
  • Please observe and comply with health-related signage around the University and hospitals.

Safety on campus

Q. How do I know the accommodation and facilities on campus are safe?

  • There are currently no known affected cases among ECU students and staff.
  • Current medical advice is that there is no increased risk of contracting coronavirus by being on campus.
  • As at 2 February, the Federal Government issued a Level 4 ‘Do not travel’ advisory for people planning to travel to any part of mainland China.
  • Prior to 2 February, staff and students travelling back to Australia from China were, as best as possible, contacted by the University to ensure appropriate self-isolation measures were being carried out.
  • ECU’s Student Health Services team has upgraded its precautions associated with infectious diseases control as per the advice of health authorities.
  • Preventative hygiene information is being distributed across our University campuses.

Advice for all students

Q. Who can I contact if I have an urgent or immediate query about my studies or attending Orientation events?

  • You can call ECU’s Coronavirus Helpline on +61 8 6304 8500 or submit an enquiry via the online form on Ask Us.
  • You may also find an answer to your query on this fact sheet issued by the Department of Health for university and vocational education students and staff.

Q. Are summer teaching period/alternate/supplementary examinations impacted?

  • At this stage, examinations will proceed as scheduled. Students scheduled to sit examinations will be informed if arrangements change.

Q. Will ECU cancel classes for Semester One?

  • All ECU classes are operating as normal. ECU is following the advice of health authorities to reduce exposure to the coronavirus. We will continue to update students and staff as new information becomes available.
  • The Federal Department of Health has published a fact sheet with information for university and vocational education students and staff arriving from Hubei province.

Q. What happens if I can’t travel to ECU to commence my study by the start of Semester One?

  • ECU defines an affected student as a student who cannot travel from mainland China and arrive for the commencement of Semester One on 24 February 2020.
  • Enrolment for Semester One 2020 closes at the end of Week Two, Friday 6 March, but extenuating circumstances for late enrolment until the end of Week Three, Friday 13 March may be considered.
  • ECU staff are developing flexible study plans for impacted students involving online learning and access to other materials for the first weeks of semester. You will be contacted by a senior ECU staff member about your study plan before 21 February.
  • For additional questions and advice, contact ECU’s Coronavirus Helpline on +61 8 6304 8500 or submit an enquiry via the online form on Ask Us.

Q. What happens if I can’t travel to ECU to continue my study in Semester One?

  • ECU defines an affected student as a student who cannot travel from mainland China and arrive for the commencement of Semester One.
  • Affected continuing students can choose to enrol and, should the travel ban be lifted in the near future, you may be able to continue your studies on campus. You should enrol before the end of Week Two on 6 March 2020.
  • ECU staff are developing flexible study plans for impacted students involving online learning and access to other materials for the first weeks of semester. You will be contacted by a senior ECU staff member about your study plan before 21 February.
  • If the travel bans continue and you cannot travel to Australia to complete your unit, tuition fees may be credited.
  • For advice on all of the above options, contact ECU’s ECU’s Coronavirus Helpline on +61 8 6304 8500 or submit an enquiry via the online form on Ask Us.

Q. What will happen to my student visa if I defer my studies?

  • Deferral will be granted to affected students on compassionate and compelling grounds.
  • Your current Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) will be cancelled and a new CoE immediately generated for your return to study in Semester Two. You will be provided a copy of this new CoE. You can check your visa status through Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO).
  • For advice on all of the above options, contact ECU’s Coronavirus Helpline on +61 8 6304 8500 or submit an enquiry via the online form on Ask Us.

Q. Can I still travel to China for work or leisure?

  • As of 1 February 2020, the Australian Government has updated its travel advisory to ‘Do not travel’ to anywhere on mainland China.
  • DFAT has advice for travellers, including those returning from a destination with reported cases.

Q. Are Orientation Week activities and events still going ahead?

  • All ECU activities are operating as normal. Like other universities and schools, ECU is following the advice of health authorities to reduce exposure to coronavirus. We will continue to update students and staff as new information becomes available.

Additional advice for international students

Q. I have lodged a student visa – will my visa still be processed?

  • The Australian Government continues to process student visa applications as usual.

Q I have a child that is unable to commence study in primary school or high school in WA?

  • If you are an international student and have a dependent child studying at a West Australian primary school or high school, and your child will be away from school for reasons associated with the Novel coronavirus, please contact TAFE International Western Australia via email (admissions.tiwa@dtwd.wa.gov.au) to let them know when you/your child were last in China. TAFE International will then work with your nominated school to advise them and to discuss any support for your child’s learning while they are absent from school.
  • Parents/carers should review the Department of Education information for parents regarding the Novel coronavirus. If your child is unable to commence due to any of the above reasons or you need assistance you can contact TAFE International Western Australia on 0439 720 174 for assistance.

Advice for staff

Q. Can I still travel to China for work or leisure?

  • No. As of 1 February 2020, the Federal Government has updated its travel advisory to ‘Do not travel’ to anywhere on mainland China.
  • DFAT has issued advice for travellers, including those returning from a destination with reported cases.

Q. What should I do if a member of my team contacts me to advise they are currently in mainland China or are required to self-isolate?

Q. What if I have a work trip booked and wish to change my plans?

  • ECU fully supports any decision staff may wish to make about cancelling or postponing work travel plans based on concerns about the coronavirus.
  • If you are planning work travel in the coming weeks or months, it is worth keeping a close eye on the latest travel advice from the Australian Government, not only about specific destinations but also on the status of transit hubs such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. The situation is very fluid.

Q. What do I do if I am a staff member and my child is unable to attend school?

  • We are aware that some staff may need to take care of children who are unable to attend school due to Western Australian Government advice. You may be eligible for personal leave. Please contact your line manager for further details.

Q. Can staff members work remotely?

  • All ECU activities are operating as normal. If you require flexible work arrangements, you should discuss appropriate arrangements with your line manager.

Q. What should staff members do if a student asks questions or raises concerns about their studies?

  • Please refer them to submit an enquiry via the online form on Ask Us, call ECU’s Coronavirus Helpline on +61 8 6304 8500 or visit the Student Hub for advice on how the University can best support them to continue with their studies.

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