The University of Newcastle, Australia

The University of Newcastle has a comprehensive framework for managing health emergencies and business continuity. We have a team working closely with NSW Health to ensure our response reflects the most up-to-date advice.

The health and wellbeing of our students, staff and visitors is our top priority.

We are transitioning to remote learning and teaching and many classes commenced in this format from 23 March 2020. We are also enabling staff to work from home in suitable circumstances.

Our campuses remain open for those students, staff who wish to use these spaces (we know that some people don’t have laptops or unlimited WiFi so continue to offer these resources). From 5pm, Friday 27 March our campuses require swipe card access for staff and students to access our facilities.

As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our regions grows, we anticipate our University community being directly affected in the next few weeks, and we will respond as advised. We continue to take our advice from our Government health experts. We should continue practicing social distancing and good hygiene, limiting movement in the community to essential activities only and providing the right advice and information to our community.

Last reviewed 27 March 2020


Self-assessment guide

If you are concerned you may have been exposed to COVID-19, please use this step-by-step self-assessment guide. This information also clarifies when you need to reach out to health authorities and the University in relation to your health and COVID-19. Refer to the definitions below.

STEP 1: Have you recently returned from travel overseas, or live with someone who has recently returned from overseas?

If you have returned from overseas after March 15 2020:

If you have returned from overseas travel prior to March 16 2020 in the last 14 days:

If someone you live with has returned or arrived from overseas in the last 14 days, but you did not personally travel:

If NO, move to STEP 2.

STEP 2: Have you been in contact with someone who has been confirmed by a test as positive for COVID-19?

If you have been in close contact with the individual:

If you have been in casual contact with the individual:

  • You do not need to self-isolate, monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days since you last met the infectious person.

If NO, move to STEP 3.

STEP 3: Are you a practising healthcare worker, a member of a rural or remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, or living in our student residences?

If you are showing COVID-19 Symptoms, you may meet one of the new expanded conditions for testing

If NO, move to STEP 4.

STEP 4: Have you been in contact with a person classified as a suspected case, and they've been tested for COVID-19?

If you do not have symptoms:

If the case becomes confirmed:

  • Refer to Step 2.

STEP 5: If NO to all of the above, try not to worry, there is a low risk of you having COVID-19. However, if you have had significant respiratory symptoms for a significant period of time, a GP may be able to recommend COVID-19 testing. Contact your GP in advance of making an appointment for their recommending course of action.

Definitions

Pandemic

The World Health Organisation defines a pandemic as the worldwide spread of a new disease.

Back to self-assessment guide

COVID-19 Symptoms

Patients may have fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath and other symptoms. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia with severe acute respiratory distress.

A person with laboratory confirmation of COVID-19 infection, irrespective of clinical signs and symptoms.

A) a patient with acute respiratory illness (fever and at least one sign/symptom of respiratory disease (e.g., cough, shortness of breath), AND with no other etiology that fully explains the clinical presentation AND a history of travel to or residence in a country/area or territory reporting local transmission of COVID-19 disease during the 14 days prior to symptom onset.

OR

B) a patient with any acute respiratory illness AND having been in contact with a confirmed or probable COVID19 case (see definition of contact) in the last 14 days prior to onset of symptoms;

OR

C) a patient with severe acute respiratory infection (fever and at least one sign/symptom of respiratory disease (e.g., cough, shortness breath) AND requiring hospitalization AND with no other etiology that fully explains the clinical presentation.

A suspect case for whom testing for COVID-19 is inconclusive. Inconclusive being the result of the test reported by the laboratory.

You should restrict your activities outside your home, except for seeking medical care. You should not go to work, school/childcare/university, the gym, or public areas, and should not use public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares, until cleared by your doctor.

Separate yourself from other people in the home. If you are sharing the home with others, as much as possible, you should:

  • remain separated from others
  • wear a surgical mask when you are in the same room as another person
  • use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • avoid shared or communal areas and wear a surgical mask when moving through these areas.

Make sure that you do not share a room with people who are at risk of severe disease, such as elderly people and those who have heart, lung or kidney conditions, and diabetes.

People who do not have an essential need to be in the home should not visit while you are in isolation.

Social distancing is an effective measure, but it is recognised that it cannot be practised in all situations and the aim is to generally reduce potential for transmission. Please try and consider the following for all non-essential activities such as social events:

  • avoiding crowds and mass gatherings where it is difficult to keep the appropriate distance away from others
  • avoiding small gatherings in enclosed spaces, for example family celebrations
  • attempting to keep a distance of 1.5 metres between yourself and other people where possible, for example when they are out and about in public place
  • avoiding shaking hands, hugging, or kissing other people
  • avoiding visiting vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals, infants, or people with compromised immune systems due to illness or medical treatment

COVID-19/Flu clinics are currently being established within all local health districts across NSW to assess and diagnose patients with possible COVID-19 infections and other respiratory illness such as influenza as we approach the winter season.

A COVID-19 Flu clinic has been established at the following public hospitals: John Hunter, Randwick, Westmead, Liverpool, Royal North Shore, Royal Prince Alfred and Nepean. If you are unable to attend a Flu Clinic, call your GP or call healthdirect​ 1800 022 222.

Increased hygiene measures

Hand washing is the most effective way to protect yourself.

Keeping work and study environments clean may also help to stop the spread of COVID-19 and other infections such as the common cold.

We ask students, staff and visitors to our campuses take the precautions advised by the public health experts including:

  • Hand washing for 40 - 60 seconds with soap
  • Using hand sanitiser
  • Following coughing and sneezing etiquette

Please observe and comply with health-related signage around the University.

Travel and health information

For the most up-to-date information, visit:


Information for media

Journalists, please direct all media enquiries to media@newcastle.edu.au