COVID-19 advice for the USC community - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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COVID-19 advice for the USC community

16 Oct 2020

To keep the USC community up to date with COVID-19 information, this page will feature details about new developments that relate to the university, with the latest news in bullet points at the top.

  • Following the reintroduction of COVID-19-related restrictions in some areas of South East Queensland on Saturday 22 August, USC advises that the University will continue to operate under its approved COVID-safe plans. This means that, at this time, scheduled on-campus activities at all USC campuses will continue, including those at USC's South Bank and Moreton Bay locations and the Suncorp Super Netball fixtures being held at USC Stadium on the Sunshine Coast. USC will continue to closely monitor the situation, taking its advice at all times from the Chief Health Officer.

  • Students or staff who feel unwell or exhibit flu-like symptoms should not attend campus, and should immediately make an appointment to see their GP. Queensland Health provides up-to-date guidance about the symptoms of COVID-19.

  • COVID-19 reporting form - Students, staff and visitors to USC who have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 are asked to complete this confidential form. It is also for those who may have had contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 or recently been to a declared COVID-19 hotspot.

  • Response to a coronavirus case - If Queensland Health identifies that someone from USC has coronavirus, the University will follow Queensland Health’s instructions on what actions need to be taken. See details below in the "USC Response" FAQs.
  • USC reopened its sporting facilities to the community on 11 July, with COVID-19 protocols in place for social distancing and hygiene.

  • All FAQs for students are available at USC’s dedicated student page 
  • All FAQs for staff, including work from home details, are available via MyUSC.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the novel coronavirus. Please also check in with Queensland Health, the Australian Department of Health, and the World Health Organization.

How is USC continuing to operate during the pandemic?

Following the reintroduction of COVID-19-related restrictions in some areas of South East Queensland on Saturday 22 August, USC is continuing to operate under its approved COVID-safe plans. This means that, at this time, scheduled on-campus activities at all USC campuses will continue, including those at USC's South Bank and Moreton Bay locations. USC will continue to closely monitor the situation, taking its advice at all times from Queensland'sChief Health Officer.

How is USC delivering classes in Semester 2, 2020?

USC developed an academic timetable for Semester 2 that incorporates an online timetable, without any campus associated with it, and an on-campus timetable for each campus. Students were asked to choose between the online option or the on-campus option. The online timetable is being delivered through technology-enabled learning and teaching for the entire semester. The on-campus timetables were initially delivered through technology-enabled learning and teaching, but from Week 5, delivery of tutorials, workshops and the like were offered face-to-face on campus. This approach was taken to provide students maximum flexibility and choice for their own circumstances, while also allowing USC to respond to a range of eventualities.

Are campuses still open?

All USC’s Queensland campuses remain open and operating, with staff working with additional hygiene and sanitation measures as well as with enhanced social distancing measures. This is in line with Australian Government advice that universities should continue to operate.

Are USC’s libraries services still available?

USC libraries are open and students can still borrow books and other resources. We encourage students to continue using the Click and Collect service to select items for borrowing. Library help services are available via email, phone, online via live chat, Zoom. Limited face-to-face services are available by appointment only. For the best experience, contact our team online so we can help you find what you’re after. Check the Library website for more details. usc.edu.au/library

The 24-hour study spaces at USC Sunshine Coast, USC Moreton Bay, and USC Fraser Coast remain accessible via swipe card. Social distancing limits apply in these spaces.

What will happen if someone at USC tests positive to the novel coronavirus?

If Queensland Health identifies that someone from USC has the novel coronavirus, the University will follow Queensland Health’s instructions on what actions need to be taken. It is likely, in these circumstances, that USC will need to close an entire campus for a period of time to allow Queensland Health to assess the situation and to identify those who may have come into close contact with the person with the coronavirus. USC will then follow Queensland Health’s instructions on cleaning the campus to ensure the safety of students and staff when they return.

What is USC doing to clean and sanitise the university?

USC's Asset Management Services are providing additional cleaning and sanitation services to high-touch and high-traffic areas across all sites. Particular emphasis is being placed on surfaces within bathrooms, along with high-touch areas such as handrails, door handles and lift buttons. These services are being provided in conjunction with existing work routines, along with additional cleaning shifts in the high-use locations. Some minor disruptions may result from this work.

What are the changes to use of USC Sport facilities?

USC reopened its sporting facilities to the community on 11 July, with COVID-19 protocols now in place for social distancing and hygiene. USC Stadium is permitted to host Suncorp Super Netball fixtures because it has an approved COVID-safe plan.

What should I do if I am feeling unwell?

If you are showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, including a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, contact your general practitioner or Queensland Health on 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) immediately. It is suggested to phone ahead to explain your symptoms, travel history, and possible contact with someone who might have had the novel coronavirus.

You can also let us know if you have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 by completing our confidential online reporting form:

usc.edu.au/covid-19-reporting

Should I wear a face mask?

Queensland Health's advice on face masks, as at 25 August 2020, is as follows:

"Face masks can be a useful measure to help control sustained community transmission. At this time, we do not have sustained community transmission in Queensland.

Face masks alone will not protect you from COVID-19. Social distancing is the gold standard of COVID-19 prevention methods, coupled with washing your hands regularly.

We understand there are situations where you may not be able to maintain social distancing. Keep a mask with you, so that if you get into one of those situations, you have some added protection."

How can I help protect myself from being infected with coronavirus?

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses include:

  • Cleaning hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. Hand rub dispensers can be found around USC's campuses in high-traffic areas and outside toilets.
  • Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. Wash your hands immediately afterwards and dispose of tissues immediately.
  • Avoiding close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough.
Who is at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus?

In Australia, those at highest risk of contracting the coronavirus are those who have:

  • travelled internationally;
  • been in a COVID-19 hotspot, which is a particular area of Australia decided by the Chief Health Officer and published on the Queensland Health website.
  • been in close contact with someone who has had a confirmed case of coronavirus.

Those with underlying medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease and the elderly, are considered to be at greater risk of more severe disease if infected. It is believed that symptoms will occur within 14 days of exposure.

Who is required to quarantine?

In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, anyone arriving in Queensland must quarantine if, in the last 14 days, they:

  • have been overseas

  • have been in a COVID-19 hotspot

  • have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19

  • have COVID-19 or any symptoms.

Why might I be asked to self-isolate and what does it involve?

People might be asked by their clinician to self-isolate in their own home, residence, hotel or other accommodation because they either have or might have COVID-19. This is to help reduce the spread of the virus to other people. Clinicians will only recommend self-isolation to those assessed as being well enough to be self-caring and able to seek medical attention if their symptoms become worse.

Self-isolation means staying at home, and not going to work, university, school or anywhere public for 14 days. Fourteen days is considered to be the maximum incubation period of the virus, so any symptoms would develop in this time.

The key is to avoid contact with others, which also means not accepting visitors to your home. People should also avoid going to the shops, and to instead arrange food deliveries to their homes or contact Student Wellbeing for assistance to arrange this.

Self-isolation has been described by public health experts as the same measures that you would take if you have the flu, to avoid spreading the virus, which is transmitted by droplets from coughs and sneezes, and possibly transferred by contact with shared surfaces.

USC students with further questions about self-isolation can contact Student Wellbeing at +61 7 5430 1226 or studentwellbeing@usc.edu.au.

USC staff with queries about self-isolation and/or believe that they should self-isolate can contact USC’s Human Resources on +61 7 5430 2830 or uscstaff@usc.edu.au.

What do I do if I get sick while in self-isolation?

If symptoms appear during a period of self-isolation, contact your general practitioner or Queensland Health on 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) immediately.

What if I'm at risk or someone I live with is at risk?

If you’re showing symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, please contact your general practitioner or Queensland Health on 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) immediately.

What is the novel coronavirus and what are the symptoms?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses similar to the common cold and more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The SARS-CoV-2 strain of coronavirus that originated in the Wuhan region of the Chinese province of Hubei is now referred to as COVID-19, and its symptoms include (but are not limited to): fever; flu-like symptoms such as cough, sore throat or headache; and difficulty breathing.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic on 11 March due to sustained transmission throughout the world. It is spreading from person to person in close proximity, similar to other respiratory illnesses such as the flu. WHO has urged people to stay calm and to continue the important work being done to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

What is a confirmed case of COVID-19? 

A confirmed case of COVID-19 is a person who tests positive to a validated, specific SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid test or who has had the virus identified by electron microscopy or viral culture.

What is a suspect case of COVID-19? And how is 'close contact' defined? 

A suspect case of COVID-19 is a person who has had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms. Close contact is defined as requiring:

  • greater than 15 minutes face-to-face contact in any setting with a confirmed case in the period extending from 24 hours before onset of symptoms in the confirmed case, or
  • sharing of a closed space with a confirmed case for a prolonged period (e.g. more than 2 hours) in the period extending from 24 hours before onset of symptoms in the confirmed case.

Information for USC students regarding advice and support during the coronavirus pandemic is now available at the University's dedicated student page.

Information for USC staff regarding advice and support during the coronavirus pandemic is now available via MyUSC.

Can I travel within Australia (including between USC campuses)?

Travel within Queensland on USC business is permitted but not encouraged. It should be only used for essential business. For travel other than between USC campuses and other USC sites, authorisation by a member of Executive is required. Interstate travel on USC business is currently suspended, including by individuals who are not USC staff members but whose travel would be paid or partly paid from USC funds. This includes funds relating to research and consultancy contracts held in USC’s name.

Can I still travel overseas for work or study?

The Australian Government advice for all overseas travel is do not travel. This reflects the gravity of the international situation arising from the COVID-19 outbreak, the risks to health, and the high likelihood of major travel disruptions.

USC has suspended international travel by staff until the end of 2020. The global travel situation will be monitored and, if circumstances change, this suspension may be modified, including to allow travel to a limited range of countries. This suspension includes travel by individuals who are not USC staff members but whose travel was planned to be paid or partly paid by USC, including trips relating to research and consultancy contracts held in the University’s name.

What restrictions apply to travellers arriving from overseas?

The Australian Government has closed the country's border to anyone who is a non-citizen or non-resident, with exemptions only for Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family, including spouses, legal guardians and dependants. New Zealand citizens who live in Australia as Australian residents are also exempt, as are New Zealanders transiting to New Zealand. Exemptions for Pacific Islanders transiting to their home countries will continue to apply. Returned travellers from any overseas location need to self-isolate for 14 days.

How does COVID-19 affect travel insurance?

COVID-19 is considered a “foreseen circumstance” for all new travel insurance policies effected and/or new paid travel arrangements made after 4pm (AEDT) 2 March 2020. A “foreseen circumstance” may be precluded under the terms and conditions of some policies. In regards to travel to China, COVID-19 has been considered a "foreseen circumstance" since 22 January 2020.

USC’s travel insurance will continue to apply for university activities except for COVID-19 related events (disruptions, cancellations, accommodation changes etc).

Contact the USC media team

Name Position Email Phone
Terry Walsh Manager, Media and Messaging twalsh@usc.edu.au +61 7 5430 1160
Janelle Kirkland Media Relations Coordinator jkirklan@usc.edu.au +61 7 5459 4553
Clare McKay Media Relations Officer (Regional) cmckay@usc.edu.au +61 7 5456 5669

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