Coronavirus not an immediate threat to TiU campus

The coronavirus is spreading across the globe. Are Tilburg University students and staff members at risk? And what measures are being taken to keep the virus at bay?

Shanghai subway travelers, January 2020. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Shanghai subway travelers, January 2020. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The coronavirus is spreading across China and the rest of the world. Cases have emerged in France, Germany and more than ten other countries. No infections have been reported in the Netherlands, but the virus seems to be getting closer to home.

Since it’s densely packed with people, the Tilburg University campus should be considered as a potential hotbed for contagion. What if someone walks onto campus carrying the coronavirus?

It is a possible scenario. Last week, the university welcomed a new wave of spring semester students from different countries—some of them from China. Are these newly arrived students from affected areas, and has the university reached out to them? “The advice issued by the RIVM is to instruct people to see their doctor if they experience symptoms such as breathing difficulties and fever,” says spokesperson Tineke Bennema. Still, the university decided to contact new students individually.

Students and staff members who visited Wuhan in December, or who are currently in the region, are requested to report this. There is a contact person for employees. Students can contact the student counselor. They can also provide advice and answer questions related to the virus. So far, no reports have been made.

Stuck in Wuhan

It is possible that Tilburg University students and employees are currently in Wuhan or other parts of China. Some may have travelled to China for the Lunar New Year, one of the country’s biggest celebrations.

The university has no information about private trips to China made by students or staff members, Bennema says. However, one PhD candidate is known to be stuck in Wuhan, the city that was put on lockdown following the outbreak of the coronavirus. The university maintains contact with this PhD candidate. According to Bennema, none of the Tilburg University students who are currently on exchange in China are in affected areas. 

Tilburg University—unlike the University of Amsterdam, for example—is not advising against travel to China. Anyone planning to go to China is requested to stay up to date by regularly visiting the websites of the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For now, no other measures are taken. The university will be closely monitoring the situation, and any additional safety guidelines recommended by the Dutch government will be followed.

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