Last updated on: 25/02/2020

Key Points

  • It is business as usual on campus with lectures taking place as scheduled.  
  • The advice from Public Health England is that the overall risk to the population is "moderate". 
  • We will be updating this advice as new Government and Public Health England guidance emerges.

Health Advice

The University is aware that the ongoing outbreak of Coronavirus may be causing concern. 

A number of cases have been confirmed throughout the world and here in the UK. The risk to the public is classified as "moderate". Public Health England is monitoring the situation closely and will continue to provide regular updates and guidance. 

Aston has established a team to closely monitor and manage the situation and is acting on advice of Public Health England, Universities UK and the NHS. 

The University is operating as it normally would, but with some additional advice around how to stay safe and healthy. 

While there is no cause for alarm at this stage, it is important to remain vigilant. You can do this by practising good personal hygiene to protect against infection. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, dispose of any used tissues in the bin and wash your hands afterwards. 

If you are an Undergraduate student on Placement and have concerns please contact the On-Placement Support Team (3PStudentSupport@aston.ac.uk). If you are a Postgraduate students and have concerns please contact the ABS School Office (abs_studentsupport@aston.ac.uk).   Ensure you are following your University (if on a study placement) and local authority advice including maintaining good hygiene.

Our International Community

Aston University has a strong history of welcoming Chinese students and staff to the UK and they are very much part of our international community. We understand that students and staff may be worried about friends and family members in China and other affected countries and our thoughts go to all those affected by this situation.

We do not tolerate racism in any form and we encourage students and staff to report any incident of racial harassment. We would encourage anyone experiencing racial harassment to report incidents to the hub. At this difficult time, we ask that students and staff support their friends and colleagues in solidarity with the whole of the international higher education community.

For more general support, students should contact The Hub.

The latest advice from Public Heath England is:

Returning Travellers

Anyone who has travelled to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and is experiencing cough or fever or shortness of breath, to stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if symptoms are mild.

If you have returned from the areas below since 19 February you should call NHS111, stay indoors and avoid contact with other people, even if you do not have symptoms:

  • Iran
  • Specific lockdown areas in Northern Italy as designated by the Government of Italy
  • Special care zones in South Korea as designated by the Government of the Republic of South Korea
  • Hubei province (returned in the past 14 days)

If you have returned from the areas below since 19 February and develop symptoms, however mild, you should stay indoors at home, avoid contact with other people, and call NHS 111. You do not need to follow this advice if you have no symptoms.

  • Northern Italy (defined by a line above, and not including, Pisa, Florence and Rimini),
  • Vietnam
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Myanmar

For any of our students who may be concerned about family and friends back in affected areas, please reach out to staff at Aston for support and for someone to talk to.  

We will continue to closely monitor the situation including advice from Public Health England, the World Health Organisation and other relevant agencies and provide regular updates. In the meantime, if anyone has any specific concerns or queries please contact safety@aston.ac.uk

We have been advised that while there is no cause for alarm at this stage, it’s important to remain vigilant and this is a highly precautionary measure to limit the potential spread of infection. 

For further updates on more detailed information visit www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public 

Coronavirus FAQs for students and staff

Are my lectures still on?

There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Birmingham, campus is open so it’s business as usual and lectures are on in accordance with your timetables.

Who can I speak to if I am concerned?

If anyone has any specific concerns or queries please contact safety@aston.ac.uk.

What is Coronavirus?

A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

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 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.

What is the risk to the UK?

The advice from Public Health England is that the overall risk to the population is "moderate". The government is monitoring the situation closely and will continue to work with the World Health Organization (WHO) and international community.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Typical symptoms of Coronavirus include feeling tired, difficulty breathing, a high temperature and a cough. For more information visit www.nhs.uk.

How does coronavirus spread?

Because it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how Wuhan coronavirus spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread by cough droplets.

What is Aston doing about Coronavirus?

Aston has established a team to closely monitor and manage the situation and is acting on advice of Public Health England, Universities UK and the NHS.

I have family in China and am really scared about what is happening?

If you need to speak to anyone our counsellors are on hand and can be contacted here. We also have a team of chaplains in our Martin Luther King Multi-faith Centre who are happy to be a listening ear for all students whether they have a faith or not.

Who should I contact if I feel unwell? 

If you do feel unwell and are concerned about your health you should seek medical advice in the first instance by calling your GP or calling NHS 111. Please do not visit a walk-in centre.

I’ve seen paramedics on campus in protective clothing, should I be concerned?

You may have heard that paramedics have been in attendance on campus wearing anti-virus protection. This was in response to two students feeling unwell with flu-like symptoms. We understand that the NHS is approaching all cases of these symptoms with extreme caution in order to keep their ambulance crews safe and paramedics are routinely wearing hazmat suits in these circumstances. Both students were tested for Coronavirus as a precautionary measure. The tests were negative and the students have now been discharged from hospital.

I have seen Chinese students on campus wearing face masks, should I be concerned? 

Some of our Chinese students are taking the proactive approach of wearing face masks as a preventative measure. This does not mean that they are sick and there is no need for other students and staff to be concerned. There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Birmingham.

Who can I speak to about visa queries?

For any visa queries and advice issu@aston.ac.uk

My visa has expired or is about to, what do I need to do?

If you are a Chinese national in the UK and have been compliant with the conditions of your visa prior to the coronavirus outbreak, your leave will be automatically extended to 31 March 2020 if your visa has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020. You don’t need to do anything to get this extension and you will be subject to the same immigration conditions as your last visa during the extension period. You will not automatically receive a new visa or Biometric Residence Permit card.

Your new expiry date (31 March 2020) will be added to UK Visas and Immigration’s systems. If you need a status letter confirming this extension, or a new Biometric Residence Permit with a revised expiry date, you should contact the coronavirus immigration helpline. If you have already applied to extend your visa you don’t need to do anything. If you are intending to apply to extend your stay in the UK before 31 March 2020 you should continue to do so.

If you wish to discuss your immigration matter with our international student advisers, please email: astoninternational@aston.ac.uk or alternatively come to the Hub reception, main building so that we can book you in with an adviser.

I’m a Chinese student, can I return home to China?

The University has restricted all travel for staff and students for university business. If you wish to travel to China for personal reasons this will be your own decision. You may find that there are restrictions in place when returning to the UK and also the possibility that there will be restrictions on outbound travel from China

I’m a member of staff, can I travel to China on university business?

Aston has restricted all travel to China for staff and students on University business, such as for work or study placements, or as ‘flying faculty’ for lecturers. This decision has been made to support the prevention of the spread of the virus and to mitigate the risk of staff and students being inadvertently stranded due to developing travel and mobility restrictions.