Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last updated Thursday 12 March 2020

We know that many of you are worried about the COVID-19 outbreak and what it means for the health and safety of students, colleagues, and friends and family, wherever they may be.

There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection at Imperial, however this could change as numbers grow in the UK. We are well prepared for this and we will let you know if and when we have a confirmed case in our community.

The College is following Public Health England and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice and we have systems in place to ensure we keep everyone cared for while continuing our education and research. If you are required to self-isolate, please let us know by emailing coronavirus-guidance@imperial.ac.uk and consult the guidance below.

Our experts are also playing a leading role in helping the UK and the world cope with this new health threat. They are modelling the spread of the disease, developing a new vaccine and providing a free online course explaining the science behind COVID-19.

We know this is a difficult time. Please be mindful of how your actions may affect others and the importance of confidentiality and be cautious about sharing unconfirmed information.

We have been impressed by the willingness of our community to support each other at this challenging time. We will continue to provide you with updates and guidance over the coming days and weeks.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Latest messages to our community

Messages to staff

Messages to the Imperial staff community about COVID-19 from the College’s President and Provost:

Messages to students

Messages to the Imperial student community about COVID-19 from the College’s President and Provost:

 

Health

Official advice and information on COVID-19

Looking after your own health

The WHO’s standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows, which include hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
  • The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.

For additional guidance on the best way to wash your hands, you can access a WHO poster [pdf] and/or an NHS video

Cleanliness on campus

We have ordered hand sanitiser, which will be distributed to reception areas, catering outlets, and student halls.

We are distributing hand washing posters to toilets and student halls.

Our cleaning contractor, Noonan, has provided extra briefings for their staff with advice on particular areas to focus on.

If you are concerned about the cleanliness of a particular facility, please call the Customer Services Centre on 020 759 48000.

Accessing healthcare in the UK

Anyone can use the NHS 111 online helpline for medical advice – you do not need to be registered with a GP to call.

If you have travelled to the UK from elsewhere in China or other specified areas in the last 14 days and develop symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath, you should call NHS 111 – do not visit your GP practice in person.

Registering with a GP

In general it’s important to register with a GP so that you can access NHS healthcare.

If you are a student please visit the Student Support Zone page for guidance on registering with a GP.

If you are a member of staff please visit the staff pages for guidance on registering with a GP.

First aiders

Access guidance for First Aiders at Imperial [pdf]

Concerns: on campus; and about friends or family

Concerns on campus

We understand that this is a worrying time but please be mindful of how your actions may be perceived. Imperial does not tolerate discrimination or harassment.

Anyone who has concerns should contact their personal tutor and senior tutor or equivalent, hall warden, supervisor or line manager. If you feel unable to do so, please contact us at coronavirus-guidance@imperial.ac.uk 

Concerns about friends or family

If you have concerns about friends or family in connection with COVID-19, please contact your personal tutor and senior tutor or equivalent, supervisor or line manager for support.

Self-isolation guidance

If you develop symptoms while on campus

Please do not be concerned about your work or studies if you need to self-isolate.

Should you develop symptoms while on campus, please follow Public Health England guidance and use the NHS 111 online helpline. Whilst you wait for advice from NHS 111 or an ambulance to arrive, try to find somewhere safe to sit where you are away from other people, and avoid touching people, surfaces and objects. Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze and put the tissue in your bag or pocket. then throw the tissue in the bin. If you don’t have any tissues available, cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Please contact the College Security team who will support you to make appropriate arrangements to follow this Public Health England advice.

If you develop symptoms while off campus

Please do not be concerned about your work or studies if you need to self-isolate.

If you develop symptoms while at home please follow Public Health England advice and use the NHS 111 coronavirus service to find out what to do. Please make sure you have advice from 111 before coming into work.

Guidance for staff

Please do not be concerned about your work if you need to self-isolate.

If you are a member of staff and are required to self-isolate please contact your line manager and coronavirus-guidance@imperial.ac.uk for support.

If you are told to self-isolate by a healthcare professional or you have returned from a country where you are required to self-isolate in accordance with current Public Health England advice, then this can be treated as sickness absence. If you are not unwell during self-isolation, the expectation is that you will work remotely where possible and there is no need to invoke the sickness absence policy.

The College’s sickness absence policy will remain in force, but the College will not enact any reduction in pay that is resultant from sickness absence related to Coronavirus so you will not be penalised for missing work. Faculties are liaising with HR on individual cases.

Guidance for students

If you have been required to self-isolate

Please do not be concerned about your studies if you need to self-isolate.

Please notify the Senior Tutor in your department.

If you live in halls, please also call the duty number (evenings and weekends) or reception (working hours) and let your warden team know so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 

Please notify the Senior Tutor in your department and coronavirus-guidance@imperial.ac.uk

Guidance for hall wardens

You will have received guidance on what to do if a student is required to self-isolate. If you have any questions please contact Student Services for support.

How to self-isolate if you are in shared accommodation

If you live in other shared accommodation and need to avoid contact with other people please follow the Public Health England guidance on what avoiding contact with other people means in practice.

The additional advice for shared accommodation includes:  

  • stay in your room with the door closed, only using communal kitchens, bathrooms and living areas when necessary
  • avoid using a shared kitchen while others are using it
  • take your meals back to your room to eat
  • use a dishwasher (if available) to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery; if this is not possible, wash them by hand using detergent and warm water and dry them thoroughly, using a separate tea towel

 

Guidance for line managers

If a member of your staff advises you that they are required to self-isolate please ensure they have alerted coronavirus-guidance@imperial.ac.uk 

If appropriate you may wish to help them make arrangements to work for home.  Please ask your Head of Department or equivalent or HR for advice if you are unsure what to do.

 

Travel

Planning travel abroad

Travelling on College business

The College is following FCO advice with regard to travel and they advise against all but essential travel to some areas. Please check the FCO guidance for your destination.

If you are due to travel to one of these areas on College business and you consider your trip to be essential, please seek approval from your Dean or Director and confirm the College travel insurance position. The College will not allow work or study related trips which are not covered by the College insurance policy.

Group travel

If you are planning a trip with a group of staff or students please inform your Faculty Operating Officer or the Imperial College Union as appropriate – you may need to be prepared to make changes at short notice.

Students planning personal travel in the Easter vacation

If you are considering making travel plans you should consider that the situation with COVID-19 is very fast moving. In recent days the number of areas affected has increased substantially and this may happen again between now and the start of the summer term. If this happens, UK Government advice and College guidance could change at short notice.

Currently Public Health England are advising that travellers from certain areas should avoid contact with others for 14 days.

At this point it is expected that all examinations during the Summer Term will operate as planned. We therefore advise that you allow two weeks to self-isolate between your expected return to the UK and your first exam or other assessment deadline.

We appreciate this is a change to the previous advice and may disrupt your travel plans. If there are special circumstances, please discuss this with your department. 

If you either cannot return to the UK to undertake examinations or are in the UK but are required to self-isolate, you should submit a claim for mitigating circumstances. You will be expected to have made appropriate travel plans which have allowed suitable time for self-isolation.

We are aware that government advice may change and this will be taken into account when claims are considered by the departmental Mitigating Circumstances Board.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Returning from travel abroad

We are following Public Health England advise so please consult and follow the latest Public Health England advice.

Areas where you must take action even if you do not have symptoms

If you have returned from these areas you should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people even if you do not have symptoms:

  • anywhere in Italy on or after 9 March
  • specific areas in northern Italy in the last 14 days
  • Iran in the last 14 days
  • Hubei province in China in the last 14 days
  • Daegu, Cheongdo or Gyeongsan in South Korea in the last 14 days

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

Areas where you only need to take action if you have symptoms

If you have returned from these areas in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if your symptoms are mild), stay indoors and avoid contact with other people immediately:

  • Italy (outside specific areas in northern Italy) before 9 March
  • mainland China outside of Hubei province
  • South Korea outside of Daegu, Cheongdo and Gyeongsan
  • Cambodia
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Laos
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • Singapore
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

Please note this guidance also applies if you have been in transit through one of the countries specified – for example, changing planes.

Specific advice for those returning from travel abroad who will be based in a healthcare setting

If you are based in a healthcare setting, even if you do not work in a patient-facing role, please consult the specific Public Health England guidance for healthcare workers. Please follow this guidance rather than our general staff and student guidance if it differs.

Contact details for NHS trust occupational health teams

 
Imperial College Healthcare Trust
Chelsea and Westminster
West Middlesex
  • Telephone: 020 8321 5044
Royal Brompton and Harefield
Northwick Park

Contact details for the Imperial College London occupational health team

Returning from interruption of studies

If you are a student returning from interruption to resume your studies, you may want to consider travelling back to the UK earlier due to possible travel disruption. You must follow the advice of the health authorities, so please check to ensure you can travel, as well as confirming any instructions about health checks and avoiding contact with other people. You should tell your Senior Tutor or equivalent roleholder if you are required to avoid contact with other people.

Difficulty travelling or returning

Chinese nationals in the UK unable to return to China

The Home Office has published new guidance for Chinese nationals who are unable to return to China from the UK.

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.

This also applies to Non-Chinese, non-EEA nationals in the UK normally resident in China.

Read the guidance in full

Students with further questions about their visa should contact the International Student Support team for advice.

Students unable to return to the UK from overseas

If you are a student and you are not able to return due to being kept in areas affected by COVID-19 or due to the lack of flights back to the UK, you should submit a Mitigating Circumstances application to your department.

If you might be absent from Imperial for more than 2 weeks, and might therefore miss key teaching or assessment, the College will assess the impact on your studies on an individual basis. You will need to alert us if you are in this position by contacting the Senior Tutor in your department, raising any questions or concerns you might have. Your department will then respond to you, taking into account the requirements for your degree and the up-to-date advice from the health authorities.

If you wish, you can apply for an interruption of studies. However, for taught students, this will mean restarting at the same point in the next academic year. For research students, in most cases, a shorter period of interruption is possible. Before considering an interruption of studies, make sure you talk to your Senior Tutor or equivalent roleholder.

 
 
 
 

Guidance for staff

Flexible working and ICT provision

Visit the dedicated webpage on accessing ICT resources remotely.

Our current flexible working policy remains in place and you should discuss and agree any changes to your working arrangements with your line manager.

We will use our existing IT to enable home working.

The emphasis will be on standardised systems that can be scaled up quickly and stably, in the most cost-effective way.

 Staff and students should test out their remote working systems now to identify any issues.

Education – Guidance for students

Information about exams and assessment

Exams will continue as planned unless the government takes measures that would make this impossible.

Some assessments may be done in alternative ways or at alternative venues. Registry, working with Faculties, is planning options to be ready when needed.

We will not be running on-line exams other than those already planned.

ICT support for students

Student applicants and offer holders

Difficulties obtaining visas

New students concerned about obtaining or renewing their visas should contact the International Student Support team. Where there are delays in obtaining your visa, the College will make an assessment of your situation on a case by case basis, to determine whether you can start your programme a bit later.

 
 
 
 
 
 

What do I do if I can’t travel for my interview?

If an interview is part of the admissions process for your programme, this can be arranged via a video interview.  Please contact the department to which you have applied.

I can’t take an English language test as the test centres are closed – what can I do?

We understand that English test centres have closed in some locations around the world.  However, you don’t need to have met our English requirement when you apply, although it will be made a condition of offer.  Therefore, if you can’t take a test, please don’t delay your application, but do keep practicing and preparing so you are ready when the test centres re-open. 

If closures remain in place nearer the beginning of term we will advise offer holders with an English condition of offer, on the options available at that time.

My university is closed, and I can’t get supporting documents for my postgraduate application – what should I do?

We don’t need hard copies, or original documents when you first apply, so please don’t delay your application. 

For references you need to provide valid, academic or professional, email addresses of two  referees.  We also need transcripts of your previous studies by the deadline that conditions should be completed usually in July/August. 

If these are not available to you due to coronavirus, please contact the relevant admissions team for further advice.

My school is/has been closed and I’m worried about my/my student’s exam performance

The College is aware of the difficulties students are facing due to school closures and is monitoring the developing situation and assessing the subsequent implications for affected students.  This will be taken into consideration when confirmation of places takes place following the release of exam results.

Events and meetings on campus

Guidance about events and meetings on campus

Events will continue as planned unless the government bans large gatherings or they cannot run due to poor attendance caused by COVID-19.

Please visit the graduation webpages to access the latest guidance on booking tickets and travel for graduation on 6 May.

Visitors to the College from affected areas

If you are due to visit Imperial from one of the Category 1 areas, we suggest you liaise with your host to postpone your trip. 

If you are due to visit Imperial from one of the Category 2 areas, please contact your host before confirming your travel arrangements.

Visitors and contractors on campus

Should you develop symptoms of cough or fever or shortness of breath while on campus, and you have returned to the UK from one of the areas specified by Public Health England in the last 14 days, please follow Public Health England guidance and use the NHS 111 online service. Please follow this advice even if your symptoms are minor.

Whilst you wait for advice from NHS 111 or an ambulance to arrive, try to find somewhere safe to sit where you are away from other people, and avoid touching people, surfaces and objects. Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze and put the tissue in your bag or pocket. then throw the tissue in the bin. If you don’t have any tissues available, cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Please contact the College Security team who will support you to make appropriate arrangements to follow this Public Health England advice.

What research is Imperial doing?

Information about Imperial's COVID-19 research

Imperial researchers are at the forefront of efforts to analyse the global outbreak and help work towards its solution.

The MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial is publishing regular reports on the development and potential health impacts of the virus. Read the latest reports.

A microbiology lab at Imperial’s St Mary’s campus is at the centre of a scientific race to develop a vaccine against a global viral outbreak. Read about the vaccine development.

Need more information?

Further advice to our community

We will continue to keep this webpage updated. Should there be any major changes we will inform the community directly.

Further advice and updates are also available on these sites: NHS 111 online servicePublic Health England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the World Health Organisation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you have any specific concerns not covered here you can email coronavirus-guidance@imperial.ac.uk and your query will be directed to the most relevant person.