Reducing the risk of catching coronavirus

University of Exeter expert in Communicable Disease Control and Infectious disease management, Dr Bharat Pankhania discusses how we can reduce the risk of catching coronavirus (COVID-19).

How to reduce your risk
Wash your hands
Self Isolation

Work placement and studying abroad (Exeter and Cornwall)

Latest update – Monday 1 June 12:00

Restrictions currently remain in place across all our campuses. The health, safety and wellbeing of students, colleagues and the wider community is our top priority.

In England, up to six people can now meet outside, including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces - provided those from different households observe social distancing rules. You should also try to avoid seeing people from too many households in quick succession - to minimise the risk of quick transmission.

As of Monday 18 May the Government have advised all individuals should self-isolate if they develop a new continuous cough, fever or anosmia. Anosmia is the loss of or a change in your normal sense of smell. It can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked. For further information please visit the GOV UK pages.

As of Monday 1 June the UK Government has started to reopen early years settings and reception, year one and year six in primary schools in England. From 15 June, secondary schools will begin to provide some face-to-face contact time for years 10 and 12.

Please continue to check the FAQs below for updated information and guidance.

Frequently asked questions

Please note the advice on this page may change, particularly as there are ongoing updates to the Government guidance.

Respect in our community

We know that outbreaks can take place anywhere in the world. Internationally, nationally and locally there have been incidents of xenophobic and racist behaviour and abuse.

We emphasise the need to show respect, kindness and compassion for all during this uncertain time. Inappropriate behaviour or harassment of any kind will not be tolerated. This is a hate crime and is against the law.

If you experience, or are witness to, any behaviour of this type, please report it to the police immediately. You can also report it to the University via our Speak Out web pages. We will investigate this and, where necessary, disciplinary procedures will be followed.

If you are feeling anxious during this time, further support is available via our wellbeing webpages.

We have signed an open letter with partners across Exeter on tackling hate crime and racism in our community, particularly in light of recent incidents in relation to coronavirus. This is a time when we must work together and support each other - not create more division and hurt. Read the letter in full​

Travel advice and updates

Advice for those intending to travel abroad and for those returning to the UK from overseas is changing rapidly.

There remains in place a COVID-19 exceptional travel advisory notice, advising against all but essential international travel. Please also stay up-to-date with our University specific advice and guidance on travel.


The University has made the decision to temporarily suspend all international travel for work or study purposes. This means that no international travel should be booked, even if this is planned travel in the medium to long term future. There is uncertainty over when travel will become feasible again. It is therefore a reasonable assumption that any travel booked carries an increased risk of being cancelled. For this reason, insurers will not currently provide cancellation or curtailment cover for trips booked at this time.

The safety of our staff and students is of paramount importance, therefore we suggest you complete our coronavirus travel risk assessment form before considering any travel; including personal travel or travel within the UK.
You will know that the situation is changing all the time. Please check the Foreign Travel Advice website and your emails for updated information.

Trips already booked, where departure is due within the next month should be cancelled now. Once the trip has been cancelled please let your supervisor or line manager, and the insurance team ( know that you are no longer planning to travel.

If you are currently overseas for work or study purposes and would like to return to the UK please contact your supervisor or line manager for guidance or contact us via Supervisors and managers may need to seek further advice from their College or Professional Service.

Advice for those returning to the UK from overseas is changing rapidly.

Before travelling, or making plans to travel, you must check the latest advice from the Government’s Foreign Travel Advice website. The Government continues to advise individuals to return to the UK now if currently travelling abroad, and information on contacting relevant Embassies or High Commissions and how to book flights (where these are still available) is published on the FCO webpage. There is also a webpage with dedicated guidance on protecting yourself and others on your return.

Please also stay up-to-date with our University specific advice and guidance on travel.


If you are currently abroad for work or study purposes and would like to consider returning to the UK please contact your supervisor or line manager for guidance or contact us via Supervisors and managers may need to seek further advice from their College or Professional Service.
Staff and Postgraduates must have completed the online travel form via:
Students must have arranged appropriate insurance, either via the University undergraduate travel insurance provider (, or a provider of their choice.

Advice for Study Abroad students


Comprehensive information on the 'no detriment policy and how it applies to placement abroad marks can be found on our Examinations, Assessments, Progression and Awarding page.  Please see this page (particularly questions 1.10, 1.11 and 1.12) for more information.

We understand some of you may be concerned about the potential impact of COVID-19 on your study abroad or work placement next year. We are working closely with all of our partner institutions and employers to resolve these queries as soon as possible. The University, and our partners, continue to monitor the situation and will ensure students are updated as soon as we have further information. Student experience, including your safety, wellbeing and academic opportunities, takes priority in all of our decisions. Please don’t worry and await further communication from us.

Where you are requested to return early by either your host institution, the University or your work placement provider, you should make every endeavour to comply with this request. The health and safety of our students is paramount to the University. In line with our exceptional circumstances for placements abroad policy we will make every effort to ensure that alternative forms of study/work and assessment are made available to ensure that the academic requirements of your placement abroad are met. Examples of alternative forms that may be introduced could include: alternative provision provided by the University Exeter; alternative provision provided by the host institution (likely to be virtual/online); study/work placement at an alternative partner organisation; Summer School; etc. Where required, additional individual impacts will continue be considered through the mitigation process.

Teaching will be made available online from 23 March until further notice and lab-based project work will be subject to individual risk assessment. Examinations and Assessments will take place online until further notice with alternative arrangements in place where required. You will still be registered as an Exeter student and university accommodation will remain open for the remainder of the academic year.

We advise you to make plans to go home over the next few days if you are able to do so.

We have made important adjustments and preparations which will allow you as an exchange student to return home.

1) Email your home university and with your decision and your dates of travel
2) Your College will be in contact with information about alternative assessments in due course.
3) If you are in university accommodation, email SID with notice that you are leaving early
Subject line: Accommodation: Exchange Student Early Departure

We are monitoring updates on coronavirus closely and will continue to provide as much advice, care and support as we can to our University community.

For any additional queries concerning your exchange, please contact


The University campuses are open only for essential services. In line with latest advice, we are planning our response to the Government’s working safely during coronavirus guidance. For now, all restrictions remain in place.

If you are currently working at home then you must continue doing so until you have explicit notice from your Service Director, Director of College Operations or Pro-Vice-Chancellor. If you have been working on campus during the restrictions to provide essential services, there will be no change to your current arrangements.

We ask everyone to follow the staying alert and safe guidance set out by the Government.

Most University events have been cancelled or postponed for the foreseeable future. Where possible we are moving events online. The Events Team have put together a toolkit for staff and students running online events.

The sports facilities on all campuses are also closed.

Third parties and contractors should seek advice from their line management.


Your wellbeing is extremely important to us and we would like to highlight the resources that are available to support you, if needed. This includes our self-help tool, SilverCloud and our Wellbeing Services at both our Exeter and Cornwall campuses.


There are a number of support services available to staff during this period. Our self-help tool, Pro-Counselling, can be used to access 24/7 telephone counselling via our online portal, as well as a range of well-being resources and guides. You can also talk to your line manager if you have any queries.

For further information on University Accommodation in relation to COVID-19, term 3, services and rent payments, please visit the University of Exeter Accommodation webpages.

The University, in partnership with its alumni community, has created an Emergency Assistance Fund to help students experiencing unexpected financial difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak. All registered undergraduate and postgraduate University of Exeter students facing financial difficulty because of the crisis are eligible to apply, irrespective of fee-status.

Depending on your circumstances, payment may be made as:

  • An emergency loan with 0% interest (e.g. if you have financial means but are unable to access them)
  • A non-repayment grant (e.g. for additional expenses which you don’t have the means to repay)
  • A combination of both

For more information and how to apply, please visit the webpages.

Please follow the comprehensive PHE guidance. This provides a range of information on items such as washing, sharing household items and covering your face.

If you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. For anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period. If you are living with someone who is self-isolating, you should ensure they are separate from everyone else in your home, as the virus can easily be transmitted at close quarters. This means not socialising with that person and where possible using a separate bathroom. If this is not available, then regular cleaning is required. You should also avoid sharing household items, such as dishes, glasses, cups, utensils, towels, bedding or other items with other people in your home.

You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

If you are self-isolating, we ask you to consider the actions you can take to keep our community safe. This includes staying away from vulnerable individuals, for example the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, as much as possible. Please try to stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home whenever possible, and sleep alone if you can.


We know for some that coronavirus is of increased concern. Those with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, may feel particularly vulnerable. If you have an existing or underlying health condition and you are worried about your health regarding the coronavirus, we would encourage you to use the NHS 111 online tool.

The NHS have contacted around 1.2 million people at the highest risk of complications, such as patients having treatment for cancer or people on immunosuppressant therapy; they have been asked to isolate at home for 12 weeks to protect themselves. They will receive special guidance from the NHS.

If you, or anyone you live with, has any relevant underlying health conditions we need to be aware of, please inform your line manager (staff only) and let us know by emailing

General updates on coronavirus (COVID-19)

All individuals should self-isolate if they develop a new continuous cough, fever or anosmia.

Anosmia is the loss of or a change in your normal sense of smell. It can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked. For further information please visit the GOV UK Pages.


The Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England (PHE) update the UK’s COVID-19 information on a regular basis.

PHE have created a blog ‘Novel Coronavirus: what you need to know’. The World Health Organisation (WHO) have also created a dedicated website for information and guidance. 

To find out more about what the health and social care system across the UK has done to tackle the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and what it plans to do next, please read the  Coronavirus action plan: a guide to what you can expect across the UK.

With regard to face masks and face coverings – the University continues to follow current government advice. Face coverings are not compulsory, however you are advised to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not possible or where you are more likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet. For example, on public transport or in some shops. The government advice is very clear regarding the need to reserve surgical face masks for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace such as health and care workers. More information and details on how you can make and wear a cloth face covering can be found on the government website -

Public Health England (PHE) is advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following staying alert and safe guidance. The Government has identified those that are classified as clinically vulnerable or extremely vulnerable. People who are clinically extremely vulnerable should have received a letter telling them they’re in this group or been told by their GP. Further information is available online:

Guidance on those who are at increased risk of severe illness
Guidance on who is classified as extremely vulnerable

If you are worried about your health regarding the coronavirus, you can use the NHS 111 online tool or contact your GP for further advice.

If you are a member of staff, you can talk to your line manager about being in a vulnerable category.

If you are a student, you can contact your GP or relevant health professional for advice. If you would like Wellbeing support, you can contact Wellbeing Services.

Social distancing means keeping a safe distance from other people, to help control the spread of disease. The Government has published requirements on staying alert and safe (social distancing) for people in England. Please check this information for the latest guidance. 

Everyone must follow these measures as much as is pragmatic.