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Last updated on 12 March 2020.

Frequently-Asked-Questions (FAQs) on novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Some of these frequently asked questions and answers have been adapted from Australian Government advice and NSW Health’s novel coronavirus FAQs.

General Information

About coronavirus (COVID-19), symptoms and prevention

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses found in animals and humans. They can range from mild diseases like the common cold to more serious ones. A novel coronavirus is one that hasn't been identified in humans before. COVID-19 is related to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and in the same family as MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) coronavirus.
NSW Health have advised the risk of contracting the virus without contact is extremely small.

How is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spread? Can I catch it?

Experts believe the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) originated in animal species and spread to humans. It’s reported the disease can spread person-to-person, but how and how easily are not yet understood. Other human coronavirus strains are spread from person to person through contaminated droplets from a person who is sick with the illness (through coughing or sneezing or hands that haven’t been washed thoroughly).

Where have active cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) been diagnosed?

You can find the latest information on confirmed cases at International SOS.

Are any groups of people particularly at risk?

Just like with any normal flu season, anyone may be at risk of contracting a virus. But there are preventative measures you can take to reduce your risk of infection. People with underlying medical conditions may be at risk of more severe disease if they become infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes people with heart or lung disease, pregnant women, young children, the elderly and those with a suppressed immune system.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The most common symptom is a fever. Other symptoms include a cough, sore throat and shortness of breath. Early symptoms to watch for are chills, body aches, sore throat, headache and runny nose, muscle pain or diarrhoea. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia with severe acute respiratory distress. Any member of the IMC community who is unwell or concerned about their health should contact their doctor.

How long do symptoms take to appear?

It is unknown at this stage, but most likely between two and 14 days.

I think I have symptoms. What should I do?

If you have travelled to mainland China, Iran, Republic of Koreaor another affected area in the past 14 days or have been in contact with any confirmed novel coronavirus (COVID-19) case and have a fever and respiratory signs and other symptoms, don’t panic and take the following steps and actions:

  • Stay isolated in your home for 14 days other than for seeking individual medical care.
  • Don’t attend campus.
  • Call your doctor (or your nearest hospital emergency room) and arrange an appointment as soon as possible. Make sure you tell them you’ve recently been to mainland China, an affected area or been in contact with a confirmed novel coronavirus (COVID-19) case.
  • f your usual doctor is based in the UTS Medical Centre, call the centre on 9514 1777 during business hours to speak with a medical professional. We can assist in directing you to the appropriate health care provider whether that’s a hospital or other medical support.
  • Follow NSW Department of Health’s advice on general hygiene.
  • Practise good hygiene by covering your coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow, and washing your hands thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water.

If you have symptoms and have been in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Singapore or Thailand in the last 14 days, don't panic and take the following actions:

  • See your doctor or attend the emergency department to be tested.
  • Call before you visit to notify them of your symptoms and recent travel history.
  • Wear a mask to the doctor if you have one or ask for one on arrival.

What should I do if I come into contact with a person who has symptoms, or who I think has returned to Australia recently from an affected area?

If it is a confirmed novel coronavirus (COVID-19) case, you must be isolated in your home for 14 days following exposure. Monitor your health. If you develop symptoms (as listed above), please call your doctor to arrange an appointment. Tell your doctor that you have been in contact with someone from an area affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) and follow their advice. You can also practise good hygiene by:

  • Covering any coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow.
  • Washing your hands thoroughly.
  • Carrying hand sanitiser for use in the event soap and water are not readily available.
  • Avoid touching your face.

How can I protect myself and my family?

Avoid contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing. You can also practise simple hygiene by:

  • Covering your coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow.
  • Washing your hands thoroughly.
  • Carrying hand sanitiser for use in the event soap and water are not readily available.
  • Avoid touching your face.

How do I wash my hands thoroughly?

  • Wet hands with soap and water.
  • Wash hands together for at least 20 seconds, making sure you wash your thumbs, between your fingers and the backs of your hands.
  • Rinse hands with water.
  • Dry thoroughly (preferably with a single-use towel).

You can also view this video about how to hand wash with soap and water.

I’ve seen other people wearing masks. Should I be concerned?

Wearing a face mask is a personal choice. People wearing masks may be taking preventative measures for themselves or protecting themselves from air pollution – they aren’t necessarily sick. Masks can be purchased from most local pharmacies and some hardware stores.

Should I wear a face mask?

If you have symptoms, or think you might have been infected with coronavirus (COVID-19), call your doctor or your nearest emergency department to arrange an appointment as soon as possible. You can wear a surgical (or P2) mask to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to anyone else.
If you are well, the Australian Government’s Department of Health says: Face masks are not recommended. A face mask will not protect you against becoming infected. While the use of face masks can help to prevent transmission of disease from infected patients to others, face masks are not currently recommended for use by healthy members of the public for the prevention of infections like novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

What if I need medical assistance and don’t have Medicare?

To support the NSW response to coronavirus (COVID-19), you will not be charged out of pocket expenses if you are presenting to NSW Health facilities for coronavirus (COVID-19) assessment and are not eligible for Medicare and do not have adequate insurance coverage.
NSW Health will cover your costs. These arrangements have been put in place to ensure payment issues are not a barrier for people from overseas with respiratory symptoms seeking early medical advice.

Where can I get after hours and public holiday medical services?

Contact Sydney Medical Service Co-operative Limited for after-hours service between the following times:

  • Weeknights 6pm to 8am
  • Weekends Saturday noon to Monday 8am
  • Public Holidays 24 hours
  • Telephone 02 8724 6300

Information for Staff

How is IMC responding?

IMC is closely monitoring the outbreak of the COVID-19 and also providing support for the wellbeing of any affected students and staff.

We are following official advice from the Australian Government and the NSW Department of Health in relation to the virus.

In response to recent Government advice, the travel restrictions for those in China, which were introduced on 1 February, will now remain in place until they are reviewed again. There are now also travel restrictions for those in Iran and the Republic of Korea, as well as enhanced screening measures for travellers who have come from Italy.

This site includes advice on academic arrangements for students and staff affected by the Australian Government's temporary travel restrictions, in addition to existing health and travel advice, as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We have updated our information on when affected students are expected to return to the IMC campus, in both Sydney and Hobart.

This is a constantly changing situation which we are closely monitoring. Please refer back to this page regularly for updated information.

If your question isn't answered here, please contact us via email info@top.edu.au or phone us at + 61 2 9209 4888.

IMC staff guidelines

If any staff, or your immediate family or household members, have travelled through any of the higher risk and moderate risk countries that the Department of Health identifies at any time, you must immediately isolate yourself and work from home for 14 days from the date of your return to Australia. You may return to work if at the end of 14 days self-isolation if you are showing no symptoms;

  • If any staff develop any of the identified symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention. You may not return to work until we have a medical certificate clearing you for work.
  • If you have had contact with a person with suspected COVID-19, you must immediately isolate yourself and work from home for 14 days. You may return to work if at the end of 14 days self-isolation you are showing no symptoms, or earlier if the suspected case has been confirmed as having tested negative for COVID-19;
  • If you have had contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19, you must immediately isolate yourself and work from home for 14 days. You will not be permitted to come back to work until you are declared medically fit and have provided a medical clearance certifying that you are free of COVID-19.

In any of these situations, our staff may not attend our offices or any other business locations. This includes Casual staff and Interns. We have also placed restrictions on international travel and are minimising domestic travel where possible

Client meetings - remote communications

If staff are arranging meetings with clients who have recently visited high or moderate risk countries as identified by the Department of Health at any time, please pass on our self-isolation guidance and meet with those clients by alternative means such as telephone, WebEx or Skype. Additionally, if clients are experiencing any symptoms, we ask that they not attend our offices and instead arrange meetings using alternative means.

People attending our offices

We are asking people attending our offices whether they have travelled overseas in the past 14 days or have been in direct contact with anyone who has travelled overseas. If they have, we will ask them which country and if to a high or moderate risk country as identified by the Department of Health at any time, we will be asking that the meeting is rearranged to a phone or video conference. We also ask that visitors not attend our offices if they have been in contact with a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, or if they are experiencing any symptoms and instead arrange meetings using alternative means. We are providing details of our controls to people attending events in our offices and requesting that they also follow them.

Ongoing safety focus

We are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will continue to provide updates to you as appropriate. Our approach is to manage the situation in a balanced, calm and measured way, and when required act swiftly and communicate clearly. If you would like to know more about our COVID-19 response, please visit our website FAQs. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss any of the above or if we can assist you in any way.

I have an underlying health condition. Should I still come into work?

People with underlying medical conditions may be at risk of more severe disease if they become infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes people with heart or lung disease, pregnant women, young children, the elderly and those with a suppressed immune system. If you’re in an at-risk category and are a staff member who would like to make alternative arrangements to work from home, please speak to your supervisor. Human Resources can provide assistance to assess arrangements on a case-by-case basis.

I’ve seen other people wearing masks. Should I be concerned?

Wearing a face mask is a personal choice. People wearing masks may be taking preventative measures for themselves or protecting themselves from air pollution – they aren’t necessarily sick. Masks can be purchased from most local pharmacies and some hardware stores.

I need to modify some of my subject’s learning materials for students who have been affected by travel restrictions, is there any help?

Yes, contact IT Support for help with Zoom.

What if a sick student comes to class?

If a student or staff member appears to be unwell, it is most likely they have a common cold. As would normally be the advice to someone suffering from a cold, they should be encouraged to see a doctor if needed and should avoid sharing their virus with others while in the contagious phase (e.g. by staying home from work or class while sick), but in these things common sense should prevail, and it is important that staff do not overreact or accidentally stigmatise members of our community who are most likely of no risk to them.

What are the IMC’s directives around international travel for staff?

Based on the current advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, staff should not travel to China and Iran in the coming weeks. That includes those who are already scheduled to travel. This is on the back of advice issued from the Australian Chief Medical Officer, which recommends Australians do not travel due to the increased risk from novel coronavirus (COVID-19). As the situation evolves, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are continuing to update their advice on travel to other countries. Before travelling outside of Australia see International SOS (the world’s leading medical and travel security services company) or Smart Traveller and follow the current advice.

I have an international holiday or work trip planned. What should I do?

If you are heading overseas to destinations which may have been affected, please note that your return to Australia may be impacted as the < href="https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert" Australian Government has announced all travellers arriving from any part of mainland China as of 1 February 2020, from Iran as of 1 March 2020, and from Italy and the Republic of Korea as of 5 March 2020, regardless of nationality, will be subject to enhanced border control measures to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of the Australian community. Find out more about the Australian Government's border control measures on this FAQ page in the Travel restrictions to Australia section.

If you plan to proceed with your overseas trip to destinations which may have been affected, check the advice on Smart Traveller.

Currently the medical and travel advice for international travellers from International SOS includes:

  • Maintain flexible itineraries accounting for additional time required for health and temperature screening at airports, railway stations, docks and long-haul bus stations. Arrive early at transport hubs.
  • Avoid direct contact with animals (live or dead) and their environment:
  • Do not visit wet markets or farms.
  • Do not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with droppings.
  • Keep some distance from people who are obviously sick.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene:
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Carry hand sanitiser for use when soap and water are not readily available.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Ensure food, including eggs, is thoroughly cooked.
  • Do not travel if you are sick – note that some locations have implemented screening, and travellers may face quarantine and testing.
  • If you develop symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) (particularly fever or shortness of breath, seek medical attention and:
  • Limit your contact with other people as much as possible.
  • Let the medical facility know about your travel history and any potential exposures.
  • Call International SOS and they will arrange an appropriate referral.
  • Monitor the latest information on the virus, as well as any quarantine and isolation procedures being implemented at both your origin and destination.
  • Monitor International SOS news releases on China, Iran, Italy and the Republic of Korea for further notable updates.

Information for Students

Advice for students affected by travel restrictions, lockdowns or self-isolation

We extend our sympathy to anyone affected by this situation. At IMC, we are very conscious of the devastating effect that the coronavirus (COVID-19) is having on the global community. You are in our thoughts and we stand with you in solidarity and friendship in these challenging times. As the academic year at IMC begins, we are also very aware that you may be concerned about commencing or continuing your studies with us, given your inability to travel to Australia as you had planned. We would like to reassure you that we are putting arrangements in place to support you and your study plans, so that you can still complete your studies in the timeframe you had expected, and with no or minimal additional financial cost. We are looking forward to welcoming you to our campus to commence face-to-face studies as soon as possible. We will continue to update you through your IMC student email and on social media. If you are still in China and are unable to travel, we will also contact you directly.

Information for 2020 Term 1 Orientation and Enrolment

The government’s travel restrictions are currently in place until further review. Please note that IMC has now extended the dates you can arrive on campus. There are also updates on online learning options to ensure you can get started while you wait to join us in person. In order to study during the Term 1 session (commencing in March), the last day new students can arrive in Australia is Friday 3 April 2020 (the end of Week 4 of the session). This final date recognises you may also need to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival in Australia before starting on campus on Monday 20 April 2020.

Please Note: To ensure affected students can continue with their studies as planned, during this time IMC will provide the following:
For new students at the Sydney Campus, Orientation and Enrolment will be conducted online from Monday 9 March 2020.

You can stay up to date with the latest information on all of the above on this page or visit the Key Dates page.
We will also continue to email all IMC students with updates about the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, and send tailored emails to students directly affected by the current travel restrictions. While we will continue to provide general updates on WeChat and Weibo, it’s important you check your IMC student email on a regular basis for specific updates and advice. We understand this has been a very challenging situation for many in our community. If you require enrolment or administrative support, or you need to submit an Application for Special Consideration, please reach out to us.

Information for higher degree by research (HDR) students

If this situation is affecting you, we would like to first extend our sympathy and assure you that we will be doing all we can to support you so you can commence or resume your HDR studies with minimal stress or delays. The Graduate Research School is putting arrangements in place to support you and work with your supervisors, supervisory panels and faculties to ensure limited impact on studies and progress.

I’m a new HDR student and can't come back to campus due to travel restrictions or self-isolation – will this affect the start of my studies? IMC has put in place a number of recommendations to reduce the impact of these new restrictions on HDR students: All affected HDR students will be allowed to enrol up to 5 May (research census date). If you are a commencing HDR student with an approved visa, IMC will give you the option to enrol offshore and commence your studies via correspondence as long as your supervisor agrees If you are a commencing HDR student with an approved visa who intended to arrive between 14 February and 7 April, and you don’t wish to enrol offshore, you also have the option of deferring to a Spring session start date. If you believe you will be arriving late, and would like to work offshore, defer, or discuss any other options, please contact info@top.edu.au directly. If you are affected in any way by travel restrictions or self-isolation, please notify your supervisor directly and then inform us as soon as possible.

I’m a continuing HDR student and can't come back to campus due to travel restrictions or self-isolation – will this affect my return to my studies? IMC has put in place a number of recommendations to reduce the impact of these new restrictions on HDR students: If you are a continuing HDR student, you may activate your 20 days of annual leave, or you may continue to study while offshore (as long as electronic communication with supervisors is possible and you have access to online systems and library resources). If you are a continuing HDR student and you’re not allowed to re-enter Australia for more than one month, we will offer appropriate solutions on a case-by-case basis (e.g. Leave of Absence, university-activated extensions to work submission dates and/or scholarship provisions). If you believe you will be arriving late, would like to work offshore, or take annual leave, please contact directly. If you are affected in any way by travel restrictions or self-isolation, please notify your supervisor directly and then inform us as soon as possible.

What if I have coursework requirements but I can’t come to campus? If you are enrolled in a faculty with coursework requirements in the upcoming session of study and are prevented from entering Australia and arriving at IMC by 9 March, the Graduate Research School will provide extra support for you to adjust your study plan. This could involve undertaking subjects in Spring session or deferring enrolment to Spring session. Please contact directly if you are affected, or worried you may be affected, and want to discuss extra support around coursework requirements.

Getting to Australia

In order to speed up my return to IMC could I go to another country or region, stay there for 14 days, and then gain entry to Australia? We are following the advice of the Australian Department of Home Affairs who do not recommend transiting through another country prior to your arrival in Australia, as travel restrictions for countries (including Australia), may change without notice. However, students should note that as of Tuesday 18 February advice from the Deputy Chief Medical Officer states that any students who have travelled to other countries from mainland China to see out the 14-day travel exclusion period, and who have had no recent contact with people with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can enter Australia. Furthermore, any students who have spent more than 14 days in another country after leaving mainland China do not require quarantine, as long as they have not had contact with a confirmed novel coronavirus (COVID-19) case. For students who are coming from or who have transited through Iran on or after 1 March, you must isolate yourself for 14 days from the date of leaving Iran.

If you are not an Australian citizen, permanent resident or immediate family of a citizen or permanent resident, you must complete this isolation outside of Iran before travelling to Australia. For students who are coming from or who have transited through the Republic of Korea on or after 5 March, you must isolate yourself for 14 days from the date of leaving the Republic of Korea.

If you are not an Australian citizen, permanent resident or immediate family of a citizen or permanent resident, you must complete this isolation outside of the Republic of Korea before travelling to Australia. We advise you to follow the latest information from the Department of Home Affairs as well as the Department of Education on this issue.

Information on student visas

The Australian Government’s Home Affairs page has factsheets with the latest information on the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on student visas.

Information about exams

I’m going to miss an exam, what do I do? IMC Exams have outlined advice on their exams page for any students impacted by the current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and concerned about upcoming exams.