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Information of the Chief Sanitary Inspector for tertiary education institutions regarding the potential risk of coronavirus infection

09.03.2020

SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causes a disease called COVID-19. The most common symptoms of coronavirus infection are fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing problems.

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1. Coronavirus is transmitted:

  • Directly, by respiratory droplets. Small droplets containing the virus are formed when coughing, sneezing, speaking and can be a direct cause of infection.
  • A distance of 1-1.5 m from the other person you are talking to is considered safe, provided that the person does not cough or sneeze in our direction
  • Indirectly through objects and surfaces contaminated with respiratory secretions (when sneezing or coughing). The virus has the ability to briefly stay on surfaces and objects, if they were contaminated with respiratory secretions (during coughing or sneezing) of infected people. There is a risk oftransmission of the virus from contaminated surfaces with our hands, e.g. by touching the face or rubbing the eyes.

This virus, being an enveloped virus, is susceptible to all lipid solvents.

Remember to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and if it is not possible to disinfect them with alcohol-based liquids/gels

2. It is recommended to:

  1. Keep a safe distance from the interlocutor (1-1.5 meters).
  2. Promote regular and thorough washing of hands by students, employees and contractors using soap and water or disinfecting hands with an alcohol-based agent:
    • make sure that students, employees and contractors have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water,
    • place dispensers with disinfectant liquid in visible places in university buildings and make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled,
    • display posters promoting proper hand washing techniques,  combine it with other means of communication, such as training by OHS specialists.
  3. Inform about the rule to avoid touching one’s face with hands, especially one’s lips, nose and eyes.
    The World Health Organization does not recommend that healthy people wear face masks. Face masks should be worn by sick people, people caring for the sick and medical staff working with patients suspected of coronavirus infection.
  4. Ensure that learning spaces are clean and hygienic:
    • frequently touched surfaces, including desktops, counters and tables, door handles, light switches, handrails and other objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) must be regularly wiped with disinfectant or detergent water,
    • all frequently used areas, such as toilets, common rooms (auditoriums, classrooms, self-study areas) should be cleaned regularly and thoroughly using detergent water.
  5. Provide, in publicly available communications prepared by the tertiary education institution, information on where to report in case of illness, suspected infection or contact with an infected person (this information is provided below this document).
  6. Disseminate information that in the situation of a suspect case (here: infection - definition - see point 3), when going to the infectious ward, avoid public transport, and if it is impossible - put a face mask covering your mouth and nose, which is the first barrier to the spread of the virus.

3. Suspect case

A person suspected of coronavirus infection is anyone who:

. visited the country where coronavirus transmission occurs,

OR

had close contact with an infected person

(i)

a. 14 days have not passed since such visit orcontact

(i)

b. experiences symptoms such as:

  • fever
  • cough
  • dyspnea

4. If you suspect that someone may have an acute respiratory disease due to coronavirus infection:

you should remember to immediately notify the sanitary and epidemiological station by phone or report directly to the infectious ward or observation and infectious ward, where further medical procedure will be determined.

5. What does it mean that someone was in close contact with a person infected with coronavirus:

  • They were in direct contact with the sick person or in contact at a distance of less than 2 meters for more than 15 minutes;
  • they talked to a person with symptoms of the disease face to face for a long time;
  • an infected person belongs to a group of close friends or colleagues;
  • the infected person lives in the same household, in the same hotel room, in the dormitory.

Persons in close contact are NOT considered infected and if they feel well and do not have symptoms of the disease, they are unlikely to spread the infection to other people, but they are recommended to:

  • stay at home for 14 days after the last contact with a sick person and conduct self-observation - daily temperature measurement and conscious monitoring of their health,
  • submit to epidemiological monitoring - in particular by providing their telephone number to enable daily contact and carrying out the interview about their health status by an employee of a sanitary and epidemiological station,
  • if during these 14 days of self-observation the following symptoms occur: fever, cough, shortness of breath, breathing problems - they should immediately inform the sanitary and epidemiological station by phone or report directly to the infectious ward or observation-infectious ward, where further medical procedure will be determined.

The quarantine can be shortened if the results of tests for the presence of coronavirus in the suspect person (with whom the quarantined person was in contact) are negative. The decision to shorten the quarantine is taken by the appropriate state poviat sanitary inspector.

IMPORTANT

The National Health Fund operates the 800 190 590 hotline where you can get information on how to proceed with suspected coronavirus infection.

6. International cooperation concerning the occurrence and transmission of coronavirus

From the perspective of epidemiological crisis, the Chief Sanitary Inspector does not recommend travelling in particular to: China, Hong Kong and South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan. Current information about countries to which travel is NOT recommended is included in daily Communications for travellers published at www.gis.gov.pl.

It is recommended to suspend the travelling of students, academic staff and university employees to countries with active coronavirus transmission, in accordance with announcements published on the websites of the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It is recommended to temporarily suspend the personal exchange with partners from academic centres located in China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Iran, Japan, or Italy.

It is recommended that international cooperation is limited to the minimum necessary, if this is possible.

7. If you have been to China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Iran, Japan, or Italy in the last 14 days, and:

  1. you have experienced symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing problems,
    • immediately inform the sanitary and epidemiological station by phone
    • or report directly to the infectious ward or observation and infectious ward, where further medical procedure will be determined.
  2. you have not experienced the above-mentioned symptoms - monitor your health for the next 14 days, i.e. measure your body temperature every day and pay attention to the appearance of flu-like symptoms (feeling unwell, muscle pain, cough). If after 14 days of self-observation the above-mentioned symptoms did not occur, stop the monitoring.
    If you observe the above-mentioned symptoms within 14 days of selfobservation:
    • stay home,
    • immediately inform the sanitary and epidemiological station by phone
    • or report directly to the infectious ward or observation and infectious ward, where further medical procedure will be determined.
  3. you have had contact with a person who is ill or infected with coronavirus, immediately inform the sanitary and epidemiological station by phone.

8. Student's absence at the didactic classes

In the case of persons under epidemiological supervision or quarantined, including home quarantine, due to suspected contact with a person infected with coronavirus or caring for a minor under epidemiological supervision, it is recommended that the authorities of a tertiary education institution consider the student's absence from classes as justified. In the case of university employees, the interpretation in line with the recommendations of the Social Insurance Institution applies.

9. Organization of didactic classes

At the moment, there are no grounds for cancelling, a priori, didactic classes, including lectures.

In the situation of clinical classes planned by medical universities in infectious wards, an individual approach is recommended, depending on the current epidemiological situation - from organizing classes in institutions other than planned, to temporary cancellation of classes in infectious wards, postponing them to another date.

An individual approach is also recommended for clinical activities in other areas such as dentistry or anaesthesiology.

10. Organization of mass events and other events

Regarding mass events, or events planned by the authorities of a tertiary education institution or student community at the facilities of a tertiary education institution or outside of them, in case of doubts as to their organization, it is recommended to seek the opinion of the Voivode.

Currently, apart from suspect cases (see point 3), there are no indications for limiting the functioning of the academic community at tertiary education campuses, student dormitories, canteens, clubs and other tertiary education facilities.

11. Basic principles of safety and hygiene

Remember to follow the basic preventive principles that will significantly reduce the risk of coronavirus infection:

  1. Wash your hands frequently - instructions on how to wash your hands properly are provided below.
    Remember to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and if it is not possible to disinfect them with alcohol-based liquids/gels (min. 60%).
    There is a risk of transmission of the virus from contaminated surfaces with our hands, e.g. by touching the face or rubbing the eyes. Therefore, frequent hand washing reduces the risk of infection.
  2. Follow the rules of prevention protection when sneezing and coughing
    When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or a handkerchief - throw the handkerchief into a closed basket as soon as possible and wash your hands using soap and water or disinfect them with alcohol based agents (min. 60%). Covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing prevents the spread of germs, including viruses. If you  do not follow this rule, you can easily contaminate objects, surfaces or persons touched, e.g. when greeted.
  3. Keep a safe distance
    Keep a distance of at least 1-1.5 meters from a person who coughs, sneezes and has a fever. When someone with a respiratory disease coughs or sneezes, he or she expels under pressure small droplets containing the virus. If you are too close, you can inhale the virus.
  4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
    Hands touch many surfaces that may be contaminated with the virus. Touching your eyes, nose or mouth with contaminated hands may cause the virus to spread from the surface to your body.
  5. If you have a fever, cough, breathing difficulties, seek medical attention
    If you have a fever, cough, breathing difficulties, seek medical attention in accordance with the guidelines published on the website of the Ministry of Health or the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate. Respiratory symptoms accompanied by fever can have many causes, e.g. viral (influenza, adenovirus, rhinovirus, coronavirus, parainfluenza virus) or bacterial (Haemophilus influenzae, pertussis, chlamydia, mycoplasma) ones. Depending on your travel history and other circumstances, the new coronavirus may be one of them.
  6. If you have mild respiratory symptoms and have not travelled to China or other areas where coronavirus occurs
    If you have mild respiratory symptoms and have not travelled to coronavirus sites, carefully follow the basic principles of respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene, and stay at home until recovery, if possible.
  7. Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products
    Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid cross contamination with uncooked food, in accordance with good food safety principles.
  8. Protect yourself and others from falling ill by scrupulous compliance with the abovementioned rules.

How to wash hands properly