Here’s everything you need to know about dealing with coronavirus at uni

Time to do your diss!!

Coronavirus has now been declared a pandemic, with cases of the disease continuing to increase in the UK and around the world. In response, universities across the country are closing, moving lectures online, cancelling exams and postponing graduations.

But how can I avoid catching coronavirus? When do I know when to self-isolate, and what should I do while I isolate? Here’s everything you need to know about dealing with coronavirus at uni:

How can I avoid catching and spreading coronavirus?

As coronavirus is a new illness, it’s not exactly known how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses are spread through cough droplets. All the NHS advice on how to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus is essentially basic hygiene that you’d really hope people already practice.

You should wash your hands regularly, with hot water and soap and for at least 20 seconds – and use hand sanitiser if you don’t have access to soap and water. You should avoid close contact with people who are ill.

If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve, rather than your hand. Put used tissues in the bin and then wash your hands.

Also, you shouldn’t touch your face if your hands aren’t clean.

When should I self-isolate?

You should stay at home for seven days if you have either a high temperature, or a new, continuous cough – even if you think your symptoms are mild. This is important as it helps stop coronavirus spreading. The NHS says you shouldn’t go to a GP, hospital or pharmacy, and you do not need to contact 111.

However, you should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if your symptoms get worse, if they do not get better after the seven days, or if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home.

What should I do when I self-isolate?

One piece of advice the NHS gives is to not leave the house, which seems pretty obvious. You also shouldn’t have visitors to your house, and ask delivery drivers and friends and family dropping things off to leave deliveries outside your front door.

You should try and keep away from your housemates: Try and keep two meters from the other people in your house. Everyone in the house should be washing their hands and avoiding touching their faces.

You should clean surfaces regularly, and use your own toothbrush, eating and drinking utensils, drinks, towels and bedsheets. Minimise your time spent in shared spaces, and keep them clean and well-ventilated. You should also sleep alone.

Avoid using the kitchen while your housemates are in there, and eat in your bedroom. If your student house is blessed with a dishwasher, use that for cleaning your dishes. If not, clean them in the sink as normal and dry them thoroughly, with a separate tea towel to everybody else.

For shared bathrooms, you should clean them after every single time you use them. The government says you could make a rota for showering, so you’re the last to use them, and then thoroughly clean them.

Any rubbish from while you’re ill should be stored in bin bags, then put in a second bin bag and tied securely. You should leave the bags in your room for 72 hours before putting them in your big outside bins.

How can I make myself feel better?

Coronavirus is, shockingly, a virus, so antibiotics won’t work. You should drink lots of fluids, and can take over-the-counter medicine like paracetamol and ibuprofen to help alleviate symptoms.

The government recommends staying in contact with friends and family online and through social media, and keeping yourself busy watching films, reading and cooking. Yes, you might now have loads of time to do your dissertation, but will you actually? Of course you won’t.

Featured image: Graham Norrie / Birmingham University, Creative Commons license, with SWNS stock image overlay

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