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Staying Healthy

Submitted on 3 March 2020

The college is fully involved in preparations within the university for any spread of the coronavirus, and regular meetings are taking place at Selwyn to ensure that the community stays as healthy as possible. College officers are liaising with colleagues across Cambridge, and they in turn are taking the latest advice from Public Health England and other key institutions.

For the latest information, please check regularly on this government website:

Below is a joint message from Dr Martin Vinnell, the University’s director for occupational health and safety, and Dr Dan Tucker, senior tutor at Pembroke and chair of the university’s advisory group on communicable diseases, which has been sent to staff across Cambridge. They write: 

First of all, there is no reason to feel alarmed at current developments, or indeed at the prospect of cases being confirmed at the University or in the city of Cambridge.

The collegiate University has tried and tested systems in place to deal with the outbreak of communicable diseases, and much work is going on behind the scenes to make sure that we are prepared for any escalation while ensuring that our actions are proportionate and in line with government advice.

We are currently:

  • Speaking regularly with Public Health England (PHE)
  • Ensuring that we have appropriate expertise on our Incident Management Team, which would assist PHE if we had a positive case at Cambridge
  • Providing guidance to Colleges on how they should manage any self-isolation cases in the student population
  • Answering queries from institutions.

Staff should visit the University’s coronavirus webpage regularly: This provides access to the latest government advice on health and travel, as well as a number of HR-related FAQs. Please note that it is the government’s responsibility, not the University’s, to provide public health advice, and all members of staff should take responsibility for keeping up-to-date with the latest information. If the current situation escalates further, and it becomes necessary to provide operationally-focused advice, this will be posted on the ‘Information for staff, students and departments’ section of the coronavirus webpage.

The best way to protect yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses is to wash your hands regularly and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues, which should be binned straight away.

It is possible that colleagues who have visited one of the countries on the government’s watch-list may fall ill, or cannot attend work because they need to self-isolate. The fact that, as of 1 March, there have been 11,750 tests for COVID-19 and only 35 positive cases, is clear evidence that they are far more likely to have another illness or condition. It is important, therefore, to be non-judgmental and calm in these circumstances, and continue as normal.

We are aware that many people are concerned about travelling or making travel plans. Staff are advised to check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel guidance regularly, make a judgement as to whether they feel comfortable travelling, and ensure that they have appropriate travel insurance in place.

There is also no reason at the moment to consider cancelling, or not attending, public events or lectures, although it is important to be mindful that the current situation may change rapidly.

Thank you for your cooperation. 

Dr Martin Vinnell, Director of Occupational Health and Safety
Dr Dan Tucker, Chair of the Advisory Group on Communicable Diseases and Senior Tutor, Pembroke College