Health, safety and travel
General advice and support for all students and staff including information on University services, health and self-isolation, travel and official resources.
The health, safety and wellbeing of our entire University community is our highest priority. The FAQs below provide useful information on health, safety and travel, and there are more specific FAQs available for current students, staff and prospective students including wellbeing advice and resources.
As this is a rapidly changing situation, these pages are being updated daily and you can find a summary of the daily updates on our Covid-19 homepage.
If you are looking for general information on the Novel coronavirus (Covid-19), please visit the NHS Inform website.
University advice and support
As you will be aware, “essential-services” only have been operating on campus from Tuesday 24th March.
Essential services include campus-based research related to Covid-19 as well as services which support NHS clinical activities, our student accommodation, data centres and animal welfare. We will update you as soon as we can with information on further building closures, with clear protocols about access for essential staff.
The Pharmacy and the University Health Centre are essential public health services and will remain open.
The Pharmacy and University Health Centre are essential public health services and remain open. Both services can be accessed via 6 Bristo Square, in the Health Centre building.
The Pharmacy is also offering a delivery service to support social and physical distancing measures. For more information, please call 0131 650 2525 or email Pharmacy@ed.ac.uk.
There is the unfortunate possibility that current events might cause an increase in incidents of racial harassment, aggression or abuse which some students and staff might face either on or off campus. This is never acceptable. If you face any negative or abusive comments or behaviour from anyone, you should tell someone and seek support from your Student Support team, personal tutor or supervisor, from the Students’ Association Advice Place, or from the Human Resources team. Any conversations will be handled with due care and confidentiality, and our staff will work with you to find the appropriate means of safety and redress.
Students who experience a crisis outside normal working hours can contact the University for support through the University Security 24/7 contact number 0131 650 2257.
We appreciate that staff and students are concerned for themselves and others, in particular if they are aware of individuals who have recently returned from affected areas and may be unwell.
All staff and students will have received various communications from the University regarding measures to be taken if they have returned from a risk area and / or may be unwell. If you think others have not seen these communications, please direct them to this webpage and encourage them to follow the guidance as appropriate.
However, we are unable to breach the confidentiality of any staff or student member who has advised us of their recent travel, or who on the advice of the NHS may be self-isolating, or who may be getting tested for Covid-19.
It is possible that some criminals will use the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to carry out fraudulent activity.
This could take many forms, but the most likely will be the use of phishing emails. We therefore want to remind all students and staff to be particularly careful of any emails that mention the following:
- 'check remote connectivity’
- ‘maintain remote access’
- ‘help your organisation/the University check remote access’
- ‘latest updates here’ or similar messages
Whilst there might be an increase in remote working during this period, the University would not send you an email asking you to ‘click on a link to check remote connectivity’.
If you do receive any emails asking you to do this, please do not click on any links but follow existing reporting processes and report it to the IS Helpline.
Following the recent government and public health guidance surrounding the measures being put in place to contain the spread of Covid-19 user activity at all Sport & Exercise facilities were suspended from close of business on Wednesday 18th March until further notice.
Please see Sport & Exercise FAQs for more information.
All current events and conferences have been cancelled or postponed in line with Government advice.
If your event is taking place beyond the current period outlined in the Government advice, you should also consider whether you be able to make the necessary arrangements in preparation for the event taking place. You may also need to consider staffing requirements as a result of the Government’s working from home advice.
Further guidance on fieldwork etc. has been published on the Covid-19 SharePoint site.
The most common symptoms of Coronavirus (Covid-19) are recent onset of:
- new continuous cough and/or
- high temperature
- Loss of taste or smell
You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you have no internet access you should call your GP or call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
Further information can be found on the UK Government website.
The information below is based on the public health advice issued on 13 March 2020.
If you or someone in your household has symptoms of Coronavirus (Covid-19) – i.e. a new, continuous cough and/or high temperature - you must self-isolate, i.e. stay at home, for:
- 7 days from when your symptoms started if you live alone, or
- 7 days if you are the first in your household to develop symptoms, or
- 14 days if you live with others and they have symptoms.
If you are the first in your household to develop symptoms:
- you need to stay at home for 7 days from the day your symptoms start
- everyone else in your household needs to stay at home for 14 days (from the day your symptoms start)
- if someone in your household then develops symptoms
- they need to self-isolate for 7 days from the onset of their symptoms. This could mean that they have to self-isolate for more than the original 14 days.
- The 14 day ‘whole household’ isolation does not restart each time a member of the household develops symptoms. So you don’t need to self-isolate beyond 7 days, unless you continue to have a high temperature.
For example: you develop symptoms (day one). You have to stay at home for 7 days. Everyone else has to stay at home for 14 days. If on day 10 someone you live with develops symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days – so in total they will have to self-isolate for 17 days. You don’t need to after day seven. No-one else needs to self-isolate after day 14, unless they too develop symptoms.
If a member of your household is the first to develop symptoms:
- they need to stay at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms start
- you and everyone else in your household need to stay at home for 14 days
- if you then develop symptoms
- you need to self-isolate for 7 days from the onset of your symptoms. This could mean that you have to self-isolate for more than the original 14 days.
- The 14 day ‘whole household’ isolation does not restart when you develop symptoms.
For example: someone you live with develops symptoms (day one). They have to stay at home for 7 days. You and everyone else in your household has to stay at home for 14 days. If on day 10 you develop symptoms, you need to stay at home for 7 days – so in total you will have to self-isolate for 17 days. No-one else needs to self-isolate after day 14, unless they too develop symptoms.
Further information on when and how to self-isolate is available on the NHS Scotland website.
The UK Government has advised those who are at increased risk from severe illness from Coronavirus (Covid-19) to be particularly stringent in following the social distancing measures. This means significantly limited face-to-face contact with friends and family if possible.
This includes those who are:
- aged 70 or older – regardless of their medical condition
- under 70 with an underlying health condition (i.e. anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds) or a complex health condition.
Information for those defined as extremely vulnerable
Shielding is being encouraged by NHS Scotland and Health Protection Scotland – this is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.
The official guidance on shielding and protecting those defined as extremely vulnerable can be found on the NHS Inform website. This information also outlines what is meant by ‘extremely vulnerable’.
If you are defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable, you are being advised to stay at home at all times for a period of at least 12 weeks.
Any member of staff who falls into this category should be working from home (if well) and not attending University for any reason.
Health and Hygiene
The most effective way to prevent the spread of respiratory infections is by practising good respiratory hygiene, such as:
- avoiding direct hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth
- maintaining good hand hygiene; washing hands with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser, after coughing or sneezing, after going to the toilet, and prior to eating and drinking
- when coughing or sneezing cover your nose and mouth with disposable tissues and disposing of them in the nearest waste bin after use
Staff and students should register with a Doctor within the UK.
Students are advised to register with a local Doctor / General Practitioner (GP). Do not wait until you are ill or require treatment to register. Registering with a GP is easy and free. See here for more information.
The Government has launched a hand washing campaign and the University have disseminated 'how to' posters on best hand washing technique.
You can reduce your risk of acquiring and spreading respiratory infections by practising good hygiene:
- avoiding direct hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
- When you arrive at work or home
- after coughing or sneezing,
- after going to the toilet,
- and prior to eating and drinking
- If you are unable to use soap and water, hand santiser could be used but you must ensure it is 60% alcohol to be effective and you must wash your hands as soon as you are able to.
Although you may now be working from home, please ensure you continue to frequently wash your hands, in particular, if you have been outside and before eating.
Hand washing posters
Hand washing posters have been displayed at all sinks around the estates. If you require to, you can download and print off the poster here:
Hand sanitisers will not be provided to buildings and we would not expect local areas to provide these unless there is a need, for example, no hand washing facilities. If supplied, they must be at least 60% alcohol to be effective. Washing hands with soap and water is the most effective means of preventing a spread and using hand sanitisers can give a false sense of cleanliness, in particular if their use is not followed up by proper hand washing.
We are aware of a confusion regarding hand driers and whether paper towels are 'safer' to use. As long as hands are washed correctly, as above, then either paper towels or hand driers can be used.
The Scottish Government do not recommend wearing a surgical or other medical grade mask.
They have however released guidance on face coverings which they suggest you wear if you are in indoor areas where social distancing measures are difficult to implement, such as shops or on public transport. The face covering, over mouth and nose, could be a scarf or other material. They have also reiterated that this does not replace social distancing and hand and respiratory hygiene measures, but could be used alongside these measures if desired.
Anyone with symptoms must continue to self-isolate for the prescribed time and not go outside, even if wearing any face coverings.
The risk assessments for the current limited range of staff work activities (primarily essential maintenance, student accommodation, Covid-19 research) highlight the need for social distancing and regular hand hygiene measures. Anyone with concerns about social distancing, hand hygiene or other measures within their work area should discuss these with their line manager in the first instance, or your School/Departmental Safety Adviser.
The advice from Health Protection Scotland continues to be that there is no need or requirement for people to wear a surgical or fitted face mask or gloves in the local community, including the University campus. The University is continuing to concentrate on social distancing and hand and respiratory hygiene as these are still the best way to protect yourself and others.
There are particular reasons why wearing face masks and gloves in non-healthcare settings is not advised. These include the following:
- Masks and gloves must be changed frequently and disposed of appropriately – they will become soiled very quickly, for example with sweat build up.
- Taking off masks and gloves must be undertaken in a safe manner to avoid cross contamination.
- People tend to touch their face more frequently when wearing masks as they can become uncomfortable or not be correctly fitted – strong advice to avoid infection in the current situation is to not touch your face.
- The virus may still exist on gloves, in the same way as it would on hands, and be transferred from gloves onto other hard surfaces. After wearing gloves, people may wash their hands less as they think they are protected, which increases the risk when touching their mouth or eyes.
Current knowledge on how Covid-19 is spread has been published by Health Protection Scotland and Public Health England in various online guidance documents which are publicity available, such as the ‘COVID-19 - Guidance for Non-Healthcare Settings’.
There are two routes by which it is spread; droplets via coughs and sneezes which then reach others standing within 2 meters of them and/or droplets on hard surfaces, such as tables and door handles, from, for example, the hands of someone who has coughed or sneezed and not washed their hands prior to touching this surface. This is why hand and respiratory hygiene, as well as social distancing, is vitally important for limiting the spread of covid-19.
There is currently no evidence to suggest these droplets can become aerosolised and move over long distances in the air, such as within air handling units – droplets which are sneezed or coughed out travel around 2 meters because of the force behind the sneeze or cough.
The University is in constant contact with Health Protection Scotland and we will update any guidance given based on information discussed with the local NHS Health Protection Team.
All cafes across the University are now closed. Catered Halls in Pollock Halls remain open with enhanced social distancing measures in place with ongoing operational review based on Government advice.
Accommodation, Catering and Events delivered catering service to University buildings closed to bookings on Monday 23 March.
In a situation where a person has suffered illness or accident, the first aiders who arrive on scene are taught to consider not only the condition of the casualty, but also, first and foremost, to ensure their own safety. This includes any hygiene and infection risk from the casualty. First aiders are trained therefore to consider any risk from the casualty from poisons or infectious agents, and to make a decision on the basis of the evidence available at the time. The decision in these circumstances may be to administer CPR by carrying out chest compressions, but not delivering rescue breaths. There is some evidence that adequate ventilation may be achieved if the airway is kept open during such chest compressions.
We have had several enquiries from University of Edinburgh trained first aiders regarding the situation during the current coronavirus outbreak. The advice is to follow the procedure outlined above, that is:
- Assess the situation and check for your own safety.
- Approach the casualty if safe to do so, then check the casualty for response by speaking loudly and looking for signs of movement from the chest and abdomen.
Resuscitation Council UK Guidelines 2015 state “If you are untrained or unable to do rescue breaths, give chest compression-only CPR (i.e. continuous compressions at a rate of at least 100–120 min-1)”.
Because of the heightened awareness of the possibility that the casualty may have COVID-19, Resuscitation Council UK offers this advice:
- Recognise cardiac arrest by looking for the absence of signs of life and the absence of normal breathing. Do not listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the patient’s mouth. If you are in any doubt about confirming cardiac arrest, the default position is to start chest compressions until help arrives.
- Make sure an ambulance is on its way. If COVID 19 is suspected, tell them when you call 999.
- If there is a perceived risk of infection, rescuers should place a cloth/towel over the casualty’s mouth and nose and attempt compression only CPR and early defibrillation until the ambulance (or advanced care team) arrives. Put hands together in the middle of the chest and push hard and fast.
More information from the Health and Safety Department (including short instruction videos), UK Government, and the Resuscitation Council UK is available at the following links:
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This applies for an indefinite period due to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. All countries may restrict travel without notice. Please see the GOV.UK website for more information.
Due to the uncertain duration of these restrictions, any international travel, field trips or placements that are scheduled to take place before 31st July should be cancelled.
We are continually monitoring changes in travel restrictions and immigration policies and will review this guidance as required for any travel, field trips or placements scheduled to take place after 31st July.
All Key Travel booking enquiries are being dealt with as quickly as possible. To assist with enquires, Key Travel has requested that travellers follow the advice below:
For existing bookings:
- If you booked via email or phone, contact Key Travel via email for cancellations.
- If you booked online and are trying to cancel, please make your cancellation online.
Please do not send another email or call about a request you have made already as it adds to the large number of enquiries.
Key Travel have also launched a Covid-19 Information Hub which you can visit for the latest updates and further information on bookings and amendments.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently advises against all but essential international travel. You must check the travel advice to the country you are travelling to.
If you decide to travel then be aware of the restrictions that may impede your return to the UK.
Useful external links to official information, guidance and resources
- GOV.UK information on Covid-19: what you need to do
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice
- Scottish Government Student Information website
- NHS website: Covid-19
- World Health Organisation (WHO): Covid-19
- City of Edinburgh Council: Covid-19 updates
- Health Protection Scotland Covid-19
- Universities UK Covid-19
- TravelHealthPro website
- British Deaf Association (BDA) daily Covid-19 updates in British Sign Language (BSL)