Swine Flu: Information for staff & students – 11 June

Message from Mark Humphriss, Chair of the University’s Emergency Management Team:

The World Health Organisation has today declared a global flu pandemic.

This reflects the spread of the swine flu virus within two regions of the world and is clearly a matter of concern. However, the declaration does not of itself increase the risk of infection, spread or severity of the virus.

The University has a well-developed pandemic flu plan, which we have been following. We have also been making further preparations in recent weeks to mitigate the impact on the University of a pandemic.

In updating their business continuity plans by July, all departments have been asked to pay particular attention to a flu pandemic situation. Academic departments have recently been asked to consider the impact on each individual course of a pandemic and report to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching).

The Emergency Management Team will be undergoing in July a desk-top simulation, with support from BANES’s Directorate of Public Health. The impact on the timetabling office is being carefully considered.

A website is in preparation which will comprise the University’s advice on handling the pandemic flu situation.

In the meantime, the information issued to staff and students on 1 May has been slightly updated and is reproduced below.

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  • Posters about hygiene precautions are now displayed throughout the campus (See related links for downloadable PDFs).
  • A leaflet was distributed to all UK households in early May.
  • We are constantly monitoring advice being given by the Health Protection Agency and other bodies.

How can I protect against swine flu?

The most valuable protection against pandemic flu is to follow NHS hygiene precautions and in particular to wash your hands more regularly than you would normally.

The University has good stocks of all cleaning materials and has increased its supplies as a precaution.

The NHS recommends:

  • Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue when possible.
  • Disposing of dirty tissues promptly and carefully.
  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to face or to other people.
  • Cleaning hard surfaces, such as door handles, frequently using a normal cleaning product

Face masks are only recommended for health professionals and those who may be suffering from swine flu.

What are the symptoms of swine flu and what do I do if I have them?

The symptoms of swine flu are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhoea and vomiting associated with swine flu.

The advice for those who have flu like symptoms is to:

  • Stay at home and avoid contact with others.
  • Call your GP or NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or visit the NHS Direct website  for advice.
  • Not attend a GP surgery as if you are infected it may cause the spread of the disease.

If you are being tested for swine flu or are advised that you have it, please notify the following people at the University as soon as possible:

  • Your line manager - in the case of staff
  • Your director of studies - in the case of a student

Line managers and directors of studies should then email universitysec@bath.ac.uk  or call extension 6212.

Advice to staff or students returning from Mexico

As a precaution, the University is requiring any staff returning from Mexico to stay away from the University for seven days following their return from Mexico.

Staff in such circumstances should work from home as far as they are able to do so. Please advise your line manager, who should inform c.pearson@bath.ac.uk  

Students should contact their Director of Studies before re-entering the University. Directors of Studies should seek advice from the Head of Student Services.

The University will be reviewing whether to relax this provision. Although the Foreign Office has adjusted its advice about travel to Mexico, it remains the case that more deaths attributable to swine flu have been reported in Mexico (some very recently) than in all other countries put together.

Advice to staff or students travelling to affected areas

If you are planning to travel to countries substantially affected by swine flu, please consult the Foreign Office website up to the time of your departure and follow its advice.

Advice to vulnerable staff and students

If you are suffering from respiratory conditions or are otherwise medically vulnerable, you are advised to consult your GP to ensure your vaccinations are up-to-date. (There is, however, currently no vaccination against swine flu.)

What if I am not registered with a GP?

This is a good time to register with a GP if you are not already registered. The Medical Centre is able to take new patients subject to its normal criteria.

What if a member of staff or student becomes infected?

The University will immediately contact the Health Protection Agency and implement whatever is recommended. We will also consider if there are additional steps we can take to further protect members of the University community.

What if I have further queries?

Please see Related Links for further information and advice about Swine Flu.

Please contact the sources referred to above for medical advice.

Queries about how the University is preparing for pandemic flu may be addressed to universitysec@bath.ac.uk

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