Stay Healthy. Spring into Summer. Keep taking steps to minimise the risks of COVID
Stay Healthy. Spring into Summer. Keep taking steps to minimise the risks of COVID.

Health

Last reviewed 21 April 2022

**UPDATE 28 March 2022** Face coverings guidance
Wearing a face covering is now a personal choice and the University's guidance on face coverings has therefore been retired (unless you are working in a hospital setting, in which case you should continue to follow the NHS Trust guidance on face coverings). Please see below for full details of our current wider health advice for students and staff.

The University has now removed its remaining COVID-19 restrictions (apart from in hospital settings).

However, it is still important for us all to continue being considerate and to take steps to minimise the risk of infection. We therefore ask all students and staff to:

  • avoid contact with others if you might be infectious
  • respect other people’s space 
  • let fresh air in when indoors
  • keep up to date with COVID vaccinations
  • respect those who choose to wear a face covering
  • cover coughs and sneezes and wash your hands regularly

Advice for those who are unwell

Many people with mild respiratory symptoms will have other illnesses, such as a common cold or hay fever, rather than COVID-19. As such, our Health Measures Advisory Group has provided the following advice for staff and students:

  • If you test positive for COVID-19, you should remain away from on-site work or study for five days, as this is the most infectious period. After that, you should not return to on-site work or study until any fever has subsided.
  • If you have a fever or more severe illness and cannot be tested for COVID-19 or have tested negative, you should stay away from on-site work or study until the fever subsides and you are asymptomatic.
  • If you have minor respiratory symptoms, you can continue to work or study on site, but, if possible, do a lateral flow test (LFD) to ensure you do not have COVID-19.
  • If you have minor respiratory symptoms (and are untested/have tested negative for COVID), you should consider wearing a face covering when working or studying on site while you are symptomatic. Try to avoid crowded spaces and close contact with anyone you know who is at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell if infected with COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses.

Staff and students should continue to report absences to their line manager, supervisor or tutor as they usually would if unable to work or study.

Note that those working or studying in hospital settings should continue to follow all NHS Trust guidance as appropriate.

Note on symptoms 

Some variants of COVID-19 cause symptoms similar to cold and flu – such as sore throat, headache or runny nose – instead of the fever, new continuous cough, or loss of smell/taste that were the symptoms originally associated with the virus.

The University’s approach is informed by Oxford’s clinical academics and local and national guidance. We will respond to any changes in public health recommendations caused by the virus if and when they occur.

**Updated 1 April** Testing for COVID-19

The University’s PCR testing service has now closed, and free PCR and LFD tests are no longer available to the general public in England.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you can continue to use the LFD tests which have already been distributed to LFD Collect points around the University, including colleges (each college will issue kits only to their own members), while stocks last. Tests are now only available if you have run out of LFDs and need to test because you have symptoms, or are required to test in order to work or study in a hospital setting. Another University member may pick up tests on your behalf if you are unwell.

University staff and students working or studying in a hospital setting should continue to follow the NHS Trust guidance on testing for staff.

It is no longer possible to record PCR or LFD results with the University, due to the closure of the Early Alert Service. You should notify your line manager, supervisor or tutor as you usually would if you are unable to work or study.

Government advice: additional precautions to take if you test positive for COVID-19

If you test positive for COVID-19 (day 0), you should stay away from on-site work or study until the end of day 5 (or longer if you still have a fever/high temperature), as this is the most infectious period. During this time, you should also: 

  • try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people, especially anyone who you know is at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell if infected with COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses;
  • minimise close contact with people you live with;
  • maintain good ventilation; and
  • wash your hands regularly and cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

Further advice on how to reduce the spread of infection within your household can be found on the government website.

Some people can remain infectious to others for up to 10 days. During days 6 to 10 after your test, try to avoid contact with anyone you know who is at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell if infected with COVID-19; and consider wearing a face covering when in crowded or enclosed spaces.

Notify anyone who has stayed overnight in your household during your infectious period (the two days before and five days after your test). They – and the members of your household – are at higher risk of becoming infected due to prolonged close contact and should take the precautions outlined below. Others you may have been in (close) contact with are considered to be at lower risk and there is no longer a requirement for you to alert them.

Advice for close contacts of people with confirmed COVID-19

If you live with someone who has (tested positive for) COVID-19 or stayed overnight in their household whilst they were infectious (this is typically the two days before and five days after the date of their test), you are at the highest risk of become infected due to prolonged close contact.

It can take up to 10 days for your infection to develop. During this time, it is possible to pass COVID-19 onto others, even if you have no symptoms. You should remain alert for any symptoms and can reduce the risk to others by:

  • avoiding contact with anyone you know who is at higher risk of becoming severely unwell if they are infected with COVID-19;
  • limiting close contact with other people, especially in crowded or enclosed spaces;
  • wearing a face covering, if you can, when in close contact with others or in crowded places; and
  • keeping spaces well ventilated when you are indoors.

Rules for those accessing hospital sites

More stringent rules will continue to apply on hospital sites, to prevent the spread of infection. If you are working or studying in a hospital setting or are accessing a department that is embedded on one of the hospital sites, you must continue to follow all local NHS guidance.

Information about accessing COVID-19 vaccines including boosters

In line with government policy, we strongly encourage all staff and students to be fully vaccinated and get their booster dose(s) when eligible to protect their own health and the health of others. Information about the COVID-19 vaccination and how to book appointments can be found on the NHS website. There are also details of local walk-in vaccination clinics on the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group website.

NHS COVID Pass

The NHS COVID Pass lets you share your coronavirus (COVID-19) status records or test COVID-19 status in a secure way. It allows you to show others the details of your COVID-19 status, and you may be asked for it when travelling abroad.

Please refer to the UK government website for full details of how to get the NHS COVID Pass and what you can use it for.

Residents in England who have received COVID-19 vaccinations overseas

If you live in England and have had one or more of your COVID-19 vaccinations administered overseas, you can have your vaccination details added to your NHS Record. You can then generate an NHS COVID Pass for domestic use and international travel if you meet certain certification requirements.

To register your overseas vaccinations, you’ll need to book an appointment to register your overseas vaccination with the NHS.

Respect other people's space

While social distancing rules are no longer in place, it is important that we are considerate of each other’s space, particularly with those who are concerned about returning to in-person work and study. Staff and students are expected to respect each other’s space, using the experience of the last two years. Remember that some people may wish to take a more cautious approach, either because of concerns for their own health or that of family members, or because of general anxiety.

Good ventilation

Let fresh air in when indoors: regularly opening windows and doors increases ventilation and significantly reduces the spread of COVID-19. This is particularly important in areas which are poorly ventilated or where signs indicate the need to do so (although please note that fire doors should remain shut).

Updated guidance on ventilation is available for staff on the Safety Office website.

Face coverings

Wearing a face covering is now a personal choice. Please be respectful to those who choose to continue wearing one.

Face masks must still be worn by anyone working on a hospital site and you should follow the latest guidance on the Oxford University Hospitals website if this applies to you.

If you have non-COVID respiratory symptoms (or are untested), you should consider wearing a face covering when working or studying on site while you are symptomatic.

Wellbeing

COVID-19 impacts the way we work, study and interact with one another. These changes are not always welcome and can lead to anxiety. These feelings can be more acute if you have a mental illness. If you have worries about COVID-19, the University has a number of varied resources available to help both staff and students. It’s important not to suffer in silence. If you’re a student, help and information can be found on our student welfare and wellbeing page. There are also online resources and guidance for staff.

Be responsible. Be considerate. Be safe.
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