Advice for everyone

Please also refer to our Autumn term 2020 pages and the latest advice on the main coronavirus homepage.

The questions and answers below are relevant to both staff and students. More specific information is available on our advice pages:

Advice for current students

Advice for staff

Advice for prospective students

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses common around the world, which may cause illness in animals or humans. The Novel Coronavirus (or Covid-19) was detected in December 2019, and cases have been confirmed around the world.

Public Health England has assessed the current risk to the public as 'high' and is working with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the NHS and other international partners constantly to review the situation.

What are the symptoms?

As outlined on the NHS website, novel coronavirus (Covid-19) is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. The symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • Respiratory symptoms including a new, persistent cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • High temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • Shortness of breath
  • A loss or change to your normal sense of smell or taste

The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild, although symptoms can progress to severe pneumonia and breathing difficulties in people with weakened immune systems such as; older people, with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. Most people get better with enough rest, water to drink and medicine for pain.

What precautions can I take to avoid the spread of infection?

The World Health Organisation and NHS guidance suggests good hygiene practice to avoid the spread of infection, as well as social distancing which you can find information on below.

  • Washing your hands with soap and hot water more regularly than normal - do this for at least 20 seconds, or twice the amount of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday.
  • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work.
  • Or if hand-washing facilities are currently unavailable, using hand sanitiser until you can wash your hands again.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
  • Put used tissues in the bin (with a lid if possible) straight away and wash your hands immediately afterwards.
  • Do not not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
  • Avoiding sharing food, drink and utensils.
  • Thoroughly cooking meat and eggs and avoiding raw or undercooked animal products.
  • Regularly cleaning surfaces with disinfectant, such as desks, phones (including your mobile phone), keyboards and mice.

In England, you must wear a face covering by law in the following settings:

  • public transport
  • indoor transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
  • shops and supermarkets (places which are open to the public and that wholly or mainly offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
  • indoor shopping centres
  • banks, building societies, and post offices (including credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses)

Public Health England have prepared an advice sheet for places of education which you may wish to share around your department. It is aimed more at schools, but the information is still applicable.

What is social distancing?

On Monday 23 March 2020, the government announced strict new social distancing measures, they are the most important action we can all take in fighting coronavirus by staying at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

People are only allowed to leave their homes for the following very limited purposes, and should you need to, you should follow the Government advice on staying safe outside:

  • Shopping for basic necessities as infrequently as possible
  • To exercise, for example a run, walk, cycle, alone or with members of your household, you may also now meet with up to six other member of a household, as long as you strictly maintain social distancing rules and stay two metres apart
  • You can gather at a private garden, but must not congregate inside other peoples homes, you should only enter another property if you need the bathroom urgently
  • BBQs and picnics are allowed, but you must not share or pass food and drinks between you
  • Any medical need to provide care or help a vulnerable person
  • Travelling to and from work, only when absolutely necessary and when it cannot be done from home

These restrictions apply to all staff and students, including Undergraduates, Postgraduate Taught students, and Postgraduate Research students, including those living in University accommodation. Unless you have specifically been asked to do so for business critical reasons, please do not access campus facilities.

I feel unwell, should I self-isolate?

If you have a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your normal sense of smell or taste, you should stay at home for ten days from when your symptoms started. If you live with someone who has symptoms, you'll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms also.

Anyone in the household who develops symptoms after the first person, must then stay home for ten days from when their symptoms first developed, regardless of what point they are at in their 14 day isolation.

As soon as you develop symptoms you should book a coronavirus test as soon as possible, which you can do on the NHS website.

If you test positive you will be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service so you can give details of who you may have been in close contact with. They will then be contacted and offered any advice and guidance on what symptoms to look out for and what to do to prevent the spread of the virus.

If your test comes back as negative, you and your household no longer needs to self-isolate.

You do not need to attend a GP surgery or call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation, but if your symptoms worsen during home isolation, or are no better within ten days contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency call 999 for assistance.

Public Health England (PHE), has published detailed advice for people self-isolating and those living with someone who is self-isolating:

COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection

It is imperative that you follow these guidelines. This means remaining in your accommodation, not coming to campus and limiting your contact with others.

There are three groups of people who are currently being asked to self isolate, with different advice depending on those scenarios:

  1. Those who have a confirmed or possible coronavirus infection
  2. Those living in a household with a confirmed or possible coronavirus infection
  3. Those with, or living with someone with, a pre-existing health condition

Please see detailed guidance below:

  1. Those who have a confirmed or possible coronavirus infection or symptoms

This only applies to those who live on their own.

If you have been diagnosed with coronavirus, have a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of your normal sense of taste or smell, you need to stay at home for ten days from when these symptoms start.

If after ten days, you feel better and no longer have a high temperature, you can return to your normal routine. If you have not had any signs of improvement and have not already sought medical advice, you should contact NHS 111 online, or phone on 111 if you cannot access the internet.

  1. Those living in a household with a confirmed or possible coronavirus infection

This applies to those who live in the same dwelling as other people, including family members, housemates, etc.

If someone in your household has a high temperature, new consistent cough or loss of their normal sense of taste or smell, then that person should self-isolate for ten days, but the whole household should self-isolate for 14 days also, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.

After 14 days, anyone who does not have symptoms can return to their normal routine. If you do develop symptoms at any point within this 14 day period, that person should then also stay at home for a further ten days from the day your symptoms start.

  1. Those with, or living with someone with, a pre-existing health condition

If you have one of the pre-existing health conditions as identified by Public Health England, or are at high risk of contacting coronavirus, you can explore ways of minimising the risks of contracting coronavirus. A full list of the conditions can be found on the government website on social distancing.

There are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. The government has provided guidance around shielding for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus because of an underlying health condition, and for their family, friends and carers. It is intended for use in situations where the extremely vulnerable person is living in their own home, with or without additional support.

The health and wellbeing of our staff and students is paramount and we are committed to supporting you through these challenging times. If necessary, the University will support you in staying away from the campus to protect your health.

However, ways to implement appropriate social distancing within the campus for those staff or student researchers still needing to be on site, where necessary, are being explored. For example by identifying an alternative location or office space in which they can work, not requiring them to attend meetings in person and changing some of the duties they undertake.

For staff: If you need to self-isolate, you should inform your line manager and email coronavirus@sheffield.ac.uk to notify us that you are self-isolating. You may also find it useful to consult the staff wellbeing pages for other forms of advice and support.

For students: If you are a student in University accommodation and self-isolating because you are symptomatic, please notify residentsupport@sheffield.ac.uk and make sure your student record is up-to-date. Please also let the University's support services know that you are self-isolating by completing this Google form. The form will signpost you to the sources of welfare support available during this time.

How do I self isolate?

Public Health England (PHE), has published detailed advice for people self-isolating and those living with someone who is self-isolating:

COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection

It is imperative that you follow these guidelines. This means remaining in your accommodation, not coming to campus and limiting your contact with others.

If you are feeling unwell, and live in shared accommodation, use a separate bathroom from others if possible. In the case of a shared bathroom, draw up a rota for washing or bathing and use the bathroom last. Thoroughly clean the bathroom when you have finished and ensure you use separate towels from others.

If you are feeling unwell and share a communal kitchen, bathroom and living area, you should stay in your room with the door closed, only coming out when necessary and minimising contact with others. Take your meals back to your room to eat and clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery. Wash them by hand using detergent and warm water and dry them thoroughly, using a separate towel. You should not share household items with anyone else you live with.

For students: If you need to self-isolate you should inform your academic department, your landlord or residential provider and notify support@sheffield.ac.uk, who will be able to signpost you to the support available to you. If you are University accommodation, you should notify residentsupport@sheffield.ac.uk. You may also find it helpful to talk to the Student Advice Centre for guidance on any related matters personal to your circumstances.

For staff: If you need to self-isolate, you should inform your line manager and email coronavirus@sheffield.ac.uk to notify us that you are self-isolating. You may also find it useful to consult the staff wellbeing pages for other forms of advice and support.

What support is available?

Support for staff and students

You can also find information about the local support around Sheffield available at the Sheffield COVID Support Map.