Coronavirus: Scottish universities 'monitoring' deadly outbreak as students warned of quarantine

Universities in Scotland are 'monitoring' the coronavirus outbreak, as one UK institution warned students heading home for Chinese New Year that they would face being quarantined on their return.

The University of Aberdeen, which has a partnership with Wuhan University, said it was not aware of any students in Wuhan - where the outbreak is thought to have originated - who have returned from the area recently.

But a spokesman said: "The university is aware of five members of staff who have visited Wuhan during the outbreak, four of whom returned to the university three or more weeks ago.

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"The remaining member of staff has a non-teaching role and is working from home as a precautionary measure.

Universities in Scotland including Dundee (bottom) are warning students to take precautions if returning to China for New Year. Pictures: PA / Google
Universities in Scotland including Dundee (bottom) are warning students to take precautions if returning to China for New Year. Pictures: PA / Google

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"Advice regarding travel precautions has been issued to staff and students in line with Government guidance."

Staff returning from Wuhan

A spokesman for the University of Dundee said it has issued advice to students recently in China and said they should be careful if receiving items, especially food, from areas where the virus is present.

It runs a joint education partnership with Wuhan University, with 34 students on the programme in Dundee who arrived in September.

Five staff returned from a visit to Wuhan last week, the spokesman added.

He said no health concerns have been raised among either group, adding: "We will continue to monitor the situation, taking advice from the relevant agencies as to appropriate action."

Quarantine period

In England, the University of Chester said it has notified its students currently in the UK that if they return to China for Chinese New Year they will not be readmitted without a suitable quarantine period.

A Newcastle University spokesman said it had issued protection advice to around 300 students who have links to the Hubei province at the centre of the health scare, as well as offering support for those concerned.

A spokesman said: "We have arranged a dedicated health event for any student arriving from China in the last month, ensuring they register with a doctor."

Universities have followed Foreign Office advice warning people not to travel to the region affected.

Appropriate actions

Vice-chancellors' group Universities UK said: "Ensuring the safety and welfare of their students is a top priority for universities.

"UK universities have been monitoring the coronavirus situation as it unfolds and universities with students in affected areas are working to identify appropriate actions.

"Universities will continue to follow the latest FCO advice and to monitor the situation, which is evolving rapidly."