UNSW's response to the coronavirus (COVID-19)

UNSW is closely monitoring the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and is supporting any affected students and staff based on information from the federal Department of Health and NSW Health.

On Thursday 13 February, the Prime Minister announced the Federal Government will maintain the travel ban and entry restrictions from mainland China, aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19, for a further week to Saturday 22 February. The ban prevents anyone other than Australian citizens or permanent residents and their immediate families from travelling to Australia from mainland China.

The ban is being reviewed on a weekly basis.

Anyone who is able to return to Australia is still expected to isolate themselves for 14 days from the time they leave mainland China. 

Further to the extension of the travel ban, NSW Health has updated its advice to consider COVID-19 testing for individuals who have traveled to Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore or Indonesia in the 14 days before the onset of symptoms (fever, acute respiratory infection e.g. shortness of breath or cough). 

UNSW is providing advice to students who are concerned via The Nucleus. Students can also access support via our International Student advisors.

If staff require support, they should talk to their manager. UNSW also provides support services for staff members through its free and confidential counselling service, Benestar, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

UNSW will continue to update students and staff as new information becomes available.

We have also developed a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to assist. This page is being regularly updated as more information becomes available.

Our thoughts are with our students and staff with friends and family in China and anyone who has been affected.

UNSW is also posting updates for our Chinese audience on WeChat

Answering your questions

  • The  Department of Health has published a fact sheet with information for university and vocational education students and staff.
  • The University has set up a helpline with extended hours from 9am to 10pm (Sydney time) on weekdays and 9am to 5pm (Sydney time) on weekends for any urgent inquiries. Please call (02) 9385 8500 if you have an immediate or urgent concern relating to COVID-19.
  • Students in China should contact the China call centre on +86 21 6288 9885 or +86 21 6288 9886.
  • The University has also developed a list of FAQs to assist.
  • NSW Health has advised the risk of contracting the virus is extremely low without close contact.
  • NSW Health is updating its information regularly via its website.

Seeking medical advice

  • Any members of the UNSW community who are unwell or concerned about their health should contact their GP or a health professional. We suggest you call ahead, explaining your symptoms and recent travel history, rather than attend in person.
  • The UNSW Health Service can be contacted on (02) 9385 5425 from Monday-Friday between 8.15am and 5.15pm.
  • Overseas students can also call the Medibank OSHC Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283. Medibank have updated all nursing staff who take calls.
  • NSW Health has a free helpline, Health Direct, at 1800 022 222. Registered nurses are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide advice when you’re not sure what to do – whether you should see a local GP, manage the condition in isolation, or go to an emergency department. (Calls are free from a landline; charges may apply from a mobile phone.) 
  • NSW Health has arranged for medical fees to be waived and covered for any international student who seeks treatment in relation to the COVID-19 issue.

Precautions to follow

  • We ask students, staff and visitors to take the precautions advised by the public health experts including:
    • frequently clean your hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
    • when coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue, then 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.
  • Please observe and comply with health-related signage around the University.
  • The World Health Organisation has more information about simple personal hygiene practices to reduce exposure to illness.

Advice for travellers

  • The Australian Government, like other governments around the world, has implemented procedures aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has advice for travellers, including those returning from a destination with reported cases.