Emergency Coronavirus advice for the JCU community

Coronavirus advice for the JCU community

Advice and information about support

UPDATED: 5 February

The Australian Federal Government has introduced strict new travel restrictions and new travel advice.

  • From 1 February 2020, Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family (dependents, legal guardians and spouses) returning from mainland China, or transiting through mainland China, will be allowed to enter Australia but must isolate for 14 days
  • All other travellers from mainland China, or transiting through mainland China, on or after 1 February 2020, will not be permitted entry to Australia until 14 days after they have left, or transited through, mainland China.
  • If a Hong Kong citizen/resident has not been in mainland China since 1 February 2020, then they are able to travel to Australia
  • Australians are advised not to travel to mainland China

The self isolation requirements for James Cook University have been updated:

  • Anyone who travelled to Australia from China since 16 January 2020 prior to the travel restrictions, still needs to remain in isolation for 14 days after leaving China, even if they do not have any symptoms.
  • Travellers from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, unless they have been in the Hubei province in the past 14 days or in any part of mainland China on or after 1 February, do not need to self-isolate
  • You must isolate for 14 days if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus from the last date of contact.

Self isolation means staying at home or at their place of residence in Australia except when seeking medical assistance, and not receiving visitors. They should not attend University and must avoid contact with other students and staff. Those students who will be undertaking placement on their return to Australia need to contact their placement coordinators regarding workplace requirements for self isolation.

Management plans for our students and staff impacted by this travel restriction are being implemented. We are monitoring developments closely and meeting regularly to consider any developments and potential impacts on our community and operations. We will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.

JCU looks forward to welcoming all our international students as soon as possible – and our care and thoughts are with our students in China at this stressful time.

People should isolate themselves for 14 days at home or at their residence in Australia:

  • After leaving mainland China
  • If you have been in contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus

If you have symptoms you should remain isolated until you are assessed by a General Practitioner (doctor) or hospital.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses similar to the common cold and more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The strain of coronavirus from Wuhan is new and has not been previously identified in humans.

Most people infected live in, or travelled to, Hubei province, China recently. There have been cases of coronavirus reported in other Chinese provinces and other countries.

Symptoms of the coronavirus include (but are not limited to):

  • fever
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • breathing difficulties

It is likely that the virus originally came from an animal, and there is evidence that it is spread from person to person like the flu.

Viruses tend to spread via cough and sneeze droplets.

When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they release droplets of saliva or mucus.

These droplets can fall on people in the vicinity and can be either directly inhaled or picked up on the hands then transferred when someone touches their face, causing infection.

For flu, generally exposure is defined as being within six feet of an infected person who sneezes or coughs for 10 minutes or longer

Those at highest risk of being infected are people who have travelled from Wuhan (or the Hubei province) since 31 December 2019, or have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus.

Preliminary information suggests that people with underlying medical conditions such as heart or lung disease and the elderly would be at risk of more severe disease if infected.

At this stage it is believed that symptoms occur within approximately two (2) weeks of exposure.

Anyone showing symptoms should contact their General Practitioner (doctor) or a health professional, so that any appropriate precautionary measures can be taken regarding treatment. We suggest you phone ahead, explaining your symptoms and travel history, rather than attending in person.

To keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should practice good hygiene by covering your coughs and sneezes and washing your hands thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. You should also clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses include:

  • Frequently cleaning hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or a tissue – throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough
  • If you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.

There is no indication or evidence that masks are needed in day-to-day activities.

Within a healthcare setting, P2 masks are likely to provide some protection against the virus for those who are in close contact, such as treating or testing a person with symptoms.

People who think that they might be infected with coronavirus should wear a surgical mask (or P2 mask) in order to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to anyone else.

JCU is following advice from the Australian Government Department of Health and Queensland Health, which are both updating information regularly on their websites.

If you have any questions, please contact the JCU Student Centre.

Email: enquiries@jcu.edu.au

JCU Townsville Student Centre

Phone (07) 4781 5255 or freecall (within Australia) 1800 246 446.

JCU Cairns Student Centre

Phone (07) 4232 1000 or freecall (within Australia) 1800 246 446.

Free, professional and confidential support is available for students through JCU's counselling service. Sessions can be face to face, on the phone or via Skype.

If you are a staff member, JCU offers a free, confidential counselling service through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

The Australian Government has advised that Chinese authorities have restricted travel for parts of the country and may extend these restrictions at short notice. Travellers may be quarantined, due to their health condition or previous locations visited. Under these circumstances, the University’s ability to meet its duty of care obligations is limited.

The University has suspended all approved travel to the Hubei Province. Staff and students are to reconsider the need for travel to China overall.

The University will continue to monitor the situation and reassess its position on travel to China.

JCU liaised with approved providers of student accommodation (on and off campus) to ensure that they have suitable precautions and protocols in place should there be any concern about the health of a resident.

If have any questions or concerns, please contact the JCU Student Centre or email them at enquiries@jcu.edu.au

JCU Townsville Student Centre

Phone (07) 4781 5255 or freecall (within Australia) 1800 246 446

JCU Cairns Student Centre

Phone (07) 4232 1000 or freecall (within Australia) 1800 246 446.

Students who are likely to experience difficulty in travelling to a JCU campus are encouraged to get in touch with the International Student Support Team on internationalsupport@jcu.edu.au.

The University is working on options if students are unable to start on time, as planned. Depending on your program and courses, the options will be different. If you think that you will not be able to be at JCU for the beginning of Semester, please contact the International Student Support Team who will work with you to determine your options.

JCU is monitoring the situation and making decisions in response to any potential impacts on our community and operations. Students arriving from China have been contacted and will continue to be advised on the latest advice and precautions to be taken.

The Australian Government Department of Health is monitoring the situation, and is ready to increase response activities if and when they need to. Australia has well-established procedures to ensure people with illnesses travelling into the country are detected at the border. Australia already requires passengers who show signs of an infectious disease, including fever, sweats or chills to meet biosecurity officers when they arrive in Australia to be assessed. The Department of Health is working closely with State and Territory Chief Health Officers, to ensure they coordinate an evidence-based response in Australia.

More information

If you need urgent medical advice call 000.