Coronavirus (2019-nCOV) infection: what you need to know

January 30, 2020
Updated Thursday 30 January


The University continues to follow advice from the Federal Government’s Department of Health and the Department of Health NSW about the novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV) outbreak.
NSW Health has advised the risk of contracting the virus in Australia remains low. It is important to ensure that we all take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

Health advice

  • Students who have recently travelled to Hubei Province or have been in contact with a person infected with novel coronavirus virus must self-isolate for 14 days after leaving the province or having had contact with an infected person. The University will contact these students to offer support.
  • Self-quarantine does not currently apply to university students arriving from the rest of China or any other country unless they are unwell or have had contact with a person who has been infected.
  • All students and staff returning from China should consult information provided by the Department of Health.
  • Students arriving in Sydney from China to attend university should follow the advice provided in the Australian Government’s Factsheet for university students and staff arriving from China.
  • All staff and students must monitor your health closely and immediately isolate yourself and seek medical attention if you start to feel unwell.

If you feel unwell

If you experience symptoms (including a fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath) within 14 days of arriving you must:

  • Isolate yourself from others immediately
  • Phone (do not visit) a local general practioner (GP) or the closest hospital emergency department for instructions on what to do next.
    • University Health Service can be reached on (02) 9351 3484.
    • Royal Prince Alfred emergency department closest to our main campus in Camperdown is (02) 9515 6111.

Please note there is no cost for testing.

Preventing the spread of infection

Always follow these basic hygiene rules:

  • Use soap or alcohol-based hand wash frequently; wash your hands for at least 20 seconds each time.
  • Avoid areas where there are people sneezing; if you need to sneeze or cough cover your mouth or nose with a flexed elbow and dispose of tissues immediately.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is unwell
  • Do not attend study or work if you feel unwell; instead talk with your lecturer or manager and make alternative arrangements.

If you experience symptoms but have not recently travelled to China, or had contact with anyone who has, it is unlikely that you have contracted novel coronavirus. Don’t attend study or work, practice good hygiene and seek assistance from your GP or the University Health Service (call 9351 3484).

Additional support

Students who are feeling anxious or distressed can talk with one of our counsellors from Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Book an appointment by calling 8627 8433 or 8627 8437.

If you are a staff member who requires support our Employee Assistance Provider (Benestar) is available to all staff online or by calling 1300 360 364.


If you are unsure if you can travel to Sydney in time for commencement of Semester 1 classes (Monday 24 February), the University can assist you with changes to your study plans, including late enrolment and deferring.

Key points

  • The final date for enrolment has been extended to Monday 9 March. Find out how to enrol online.
  • Semester 1 will go ahead as planned. Classes for most courses start Monday 24 February. Check the study dates page for reference.
  • You can apply to suspend your studies in semester 1, 2020 and begin at a later date, such as semester 2, 2020 or semester 1, 2021 (depending on your course). Login to Sydney Student and follow the instructions to submit your request.
  • If you hold a scholarship and suspend your studies, your scholarship payments will be on hold until you start or recommence when you re-enrol.
  • If you think you will be unable to start your classes by 9 March, you should apply to suspend your studies in semester 1, 2020.

Please get in touch with the University using the below contacts for help if you are concerned about delays to your enrolment.

Travel advice

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) current advice to all Australians is to:

  • Reconsider the need to travel’ to mainland China overall
  •  ‘Do not travel’ to Hubei Province.

All travel for students and all non-essential travel for staff to China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan has been delayed until further notice.  This includes exchange programs, field schools, placements or other programs. Students in these programs will be contacted by the university.

Further updates

NSW Health factsheets provide up to date advice:

If new information or advice comes to hand, we will keep you updated. Follow this page for general updates.

Additional information for University of Sydney staff is available on the Staff Intranet.

Updates on the University’s overall coronavirus management plan, are outlined in our online statement.