Coronavirus: University of Portsmouth suspends face-to-face teaching amid 'unprecedented' virus outbreak

BOSSES at the University of Portsmouth are to suspend face-to-face teaching from tonight because of the coronavirus outbreak, members of staff have been told.

Friday, 13th March 2020, 4:49 pm
Updated Saturday, 14th March 2020, 9:28 am

Employees were told in an email sent by the institution’s vice-chancellor, Professor Graham Galbraith, just before 4.15pm.

It begins: ‘We have decided to suspend all face-to-face teaching for students on taught programmes from tonight [13 March] to help ensure the wellbeing of students and staff as a precaution against coronavirus.

‘You will appreciate this is an unprecedented situation and this decision has not been taken lightly.

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Vice-chancellor of the University of Portsmouth Prof Graham Galbraith. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

‘Many students have already decided not to attend lectures and other teaching sessions, and other universities across the country are now taking a similar decision.’

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Prof Galbraith said no students or staff members have tested positive for the virus, Covid-19, and said the university was not ‘closing’.

He added: ‘Students are being informed today and will be contacted by March 20 to let them know what alternative teaching and assessment methods will be offered.

Symptoms of coronavrius, according to the World Health Organisation

‘I am aware that many of you are working very hard to develop those alternatives to ensure taught students will not be disadvantaged.’

The institution has set up a special email account for staff to contact if they take the decision to self-isolate.

It is understood all university buildings, including the library, cafes, gym and halls of residence will remain open ‘for the time being'.

The situation is to be kept under review.

Latest figures show cases of coronavirus have now risen to 798 in the UK, where 11 people have died as a result.

Coronavirus: the facts, from the World Health Organisation and the NHS

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised.

Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath –but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat.

It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly.

The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Should I avoid public places?

Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

When to call NHS 111

NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.