Goldsmiths announces first coronavirus case – but stays open for now

Goldsmiths will not close despite a guest testing positive for COVID-19 Pic: Yuvan Kumar

Senior management at Goldsmiths said last night that the Lewisham institution would stay open following their announcement that a guest staying in student halls in New Cross had tested positive for the coronavirus.

In an email sent to all staff and students, Helen Watson, the college’s registrar and secretary, said the institution, which has a student body of some 9,000, would stay open.

She said the university had spoken to both the NHS and Public Health England (PHE) and followed their normal coronavirus procedures.

She added: “PHE have made an assessment based on the information provided by the people who have been self-isolating since developing symptoms.

“Based on this information PHE have assured us that students elsewhere in Chesterman House are not at risk.This guidance extends to our campus and they have told us we do not need to close any of our buildings or cancel activities.”

The guest – who was staying with a student in Chesterman House, a building for post-graduate students – is self-isolating, according to Watson. Their friend and another student who lives in the same set of rooms in the building are doing the same.

Watson said: “We are pleased to say the guest is recovering and will be self-isolating in their room. The Goldsmiths student they were staying with has developed symptoms, was admitted to hospital for testing, and has now been returned to self-isolation in Chesterman House. It is important to stress they have not yet been confirmed as having coronavirus.

“We have been in touch with our student throughout the day and they have confirmed their movements, saying both them and the guest have been self-isolating in their flat since developing symptoms and have not been on campus or elsewhere in Chesterman House.

The college has not revealed which subject the student studies.

The news came as isolation pods for patients potentially infected with COVID-19 were set up at both Lewisham and Croydon hospitals. 

Specialist pods are at Croydon Hospital (pictured) and Lewisham Hospital

A spoke person for the ‘Croydon University Trust’ said: “Following national guidance, all hospitals are putting in place NHS 111 pods at their emergency department so that anyone attending hospitals with symptoms of the virus can be kept isolated from other patients and NHS staff in order to avoid further spreading of the disease”.

Patients will be let out of isolation after they have had two negative results against COVID-19, each 24 hours apart. 

The 02 venue in Canary Wharf said the venue would stay open for now and events planned would not be cancelled.

A statement on its website added: Events scheduled at The O2, indigo at The O2 (and associated activities onsite) are going ahead as planned and the site remains fully open.  Across the site we have increased the supply of hand sanitiser, installed additional signage encouraging visitors to wash hands frequently and briefed our security team on what to look out for and how to deal with anyone who may be feeling unwell onsite. The O2 will continue to follow advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Public Health England, as well as that of local government.”

What to do if you are worried about the virus

The NHS 111 has an online service that can tell you if need media help and advice what to do. Use this service if:

  1. 1. You think you might have coronavirus 
  2. 2. In the last 14 days you’ve been to a country or area with a high risk of coronavirus (see coronavirus advice for travellers)
  3. 3. You’ve been in close contact with someone with coronavirus

DO NOT go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Call 111 if you need to speak to someone. 

Nationwide, NHS England has now declared level four incident over outbreak, Sky News confirmed.

Level four is the highest level of emergency preparedness planning; as it means there is a national medical crisis.

“A level three alert is declared when there is a regional emergency; and level four is declared when there is a national crisis” A NHS spokesperson  explains. 

Under the level four alert, all hospitals in England have been told to “assume that they will need to look after COVID-19 in due course” Sky News has reported.

A national incident management team and coordination centre have been put in place to deal with COVID-19.

NHS regions have to report centrally; as well as having to set up their own incident teams which include a 24/7 contact for patient management, alerts, referrals and tracking.

Additionally, everyone in intensive care with a respiratory infection must also now be tested, as should everyone in a Severe Respiratory Failure centre.

Implementing alert four comes after twelve new cases were identified on Tuesday. Eight had travelled from Italy, one from Germany, one from Singapore, one from Japan and one from Iran.

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered Coronavirus. It began in Wuhan, hina in December 2019.

The symptoms begin with a fever, tiredness and then a dry cough. After a week, shortness of breath is developed. All symptoms are usually milk and begin gradually. 

Some people become infected but do not develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. The incubation period is from 1 to 14 days, but the most common period of time is around five days. 

Most people, about 80%, recover from the disease without needing any special treatment. And around 1 out of every 6 patients get ‘seriously ill’ and develop difficulty breathing. 

The World’s Health Organisation ‘WHO’ revealed on March 3rd that the COVID-19 fatality rate is now 3.4%, BBC reports.

Older people and those with underlying medical problems- such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes- are more likely to develop the illness to a more serious level. 

The Prime Minister held a press conference in order to discuss the UK’s plans to deal with a potential coronavirus outbreak on the 3rd of March. 

These were they key points discussed:

  • ● If there is a shortage of police officers due to the virus, they will in turn “concentrate on serious crimes” only. 
  • ● The UK has stockpiles of medicine, along with clothing and equipment for medical staff.
  • ● If COVID-19 widespreads, there will be a focus on essential services for those “most at risk”.
  • ● Social distancing strategies- such as school closures, home-working and reducing the number of large scale gatherings- will be implemented.

But, what can you do to protect yourself against COVI-19?  These are the top tips from the World’s Health Organisation:

  1. 1. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with an alcohol-based hand rub or with soap and water. This will kill viruses that may be on your hands. 
  2. 2. Maintain social distancing (at least 1 metre/3 feet) between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. This will avoid you breathing in the small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus.
  3. 3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; as hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses which can be transferred into your body and make you sick
  4. 4. Practice respiratory hygiene; which means making sure you and the people around you cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Also, dispose of the used tissue immediately. 

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