The first confirmed coronavirus patient connected to Sussex University is now well again and the second is making a swift recovery, students have been told today.
Vice-chancellor Adam Tickell emailed students today to update them on the situation following reports last Friday and then Monday that two people had been diagnosed with the virus.
The two cases were numbers six and seven of the current confirmed total of eight for Brighton and Hove. The first five, a cluster diagnosed last month, have also recovered. The eighth was diagnosed at the Royal Sussex and was being treated in isolation.
Professor Tickell also revealed that flatmates of the second case had tested negative – and advised students of the new advice to self-isolate if you develop a cough or a fever.
The email said: “I know that many people are concerned about the developing situation in the UK and internationally regarding the coronavirus.
“Things have been happening quickly and it is easy to become daunted by this, especially with the rolling news covering this around the world.
“First, please be assured that the health and safety of our students and our staff is our first priority and guides the decisions that we are taking.
“It is important to remember that the current situation at the university is not one that should cause concern.
“We decided to let you know at the earliest opportunity about two individuals associated with the university. The first has not been to campus since he contracted the virus and is now well again. The second is making a swift recovery and their flatmates have tested negative.
“The doctors and health professionals at Public Health England have been very clear with us that there is no cause for concern and that the university can continue to remain open.
“Over the coming days and weeks it is very likely that there will be more people who decide to self-isolate and stay at home as a precaution.
“This is especially important following the very clear and most recent government advice that anyone who is showing symptoms, even mild ones, should stay at home for seven days.
“The advice is to stay at home for seven days if you have either a high temperature or a new continuous cough.
“There is excellent advice on the NHS website and I really encourage you to familiarise yourself with this. If you do have these symptoms, do not go to the GP or hospital.
“Self-isolating and staying at home for seven days if you are showing signs of any symptoms is the responsible thing to do and I am personally thankful to anyone who takes this step. If your symptoms deteriorate, you can phone 111 and get specialist medical advice and support.
“You are hopefully aware the UK government has a four-stage plan for dealing with covid-19 so I wanted to give you some more information about how we are preparing alongside this.
“We are in close contact with all the relevant health and government authorities and are working closely with local services being co-ordinated by Brighton and Hove City Council. Together, we are keeping the situation on campus and in the city under constant review.
“Our staff here at Sussex are involved with comprehensive planning to make sure we are able to offer you the support you deserve and need.
“We do have contingency plans in the event that we make the judgment that the university should close and we will keep you up to date.
“At this stage, the UK government is clear that widescale closures of institutions like schools and universities could be harmful in managing the epidemic.
“I’m so sorry that you are having to experience this unprecedented situation while you are at Sussex and I absolutely understand that this can be very unsettling, especially for those who are far away from home.
“There has never been a time for us to all be conscious of how everyone is feeling and to be compassionate towards our neighbours. That’s the spirit of Sussex that I believe in, very strongly.
“Our campus is not just a learning environment, it is a workplace for thousands and a home to thousands more. Any decisions we make both now and in the future will take into account the needs and safety of everybody in our community.
“We will, of course, continue to provide up-to-date information on the student hub so please do keep checking that. We will contact you directly if there are any significant developments.”
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