This section of the communicable disease management plan details the immediate actions that must be taken when there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 amongst our staff, students or visitorson or off campus.  

It is designed to be an easy-to-follow set of steps, but it is also recognised that further detailed steps may need to be taken that are associated with specific individual circumstances. 

Please note - if a student contacts a member of staff as a result of them being asked to self-isolate, they should be directed to the University’s FAQs in the first instance.

The plan follows the four “Cs” of incident management: Confirm, Clear, Communicate, Control

  • Confirm – Is the person exhibiting signs/symptoms of COVID-19?
  • Clear – Isolate the person from others or isolate others from the person.
  • Communicate - Inform key stakeholders that a suspected/confirmed COVID incident has occurred and of the actions that have been/are being taken.
  • Control – Restrict access to area where the person was working, studying or residing until cleaning can be arranged, and begin investigating where they may have been on campus to assist test and protect.

On Campus

Staff member with suspected symptoms of COVID-19

  1. If a staff member present on campus suspects they have symptoms of COVID-19, they must immediately inform Campus Operations (Security) on 2222 and follow the advice and guidance given. Security will remind the member of staff that they should contact their line manager and HR. Line managers will also contact HR to ensure that such contact has been made.

  2. The staff member will either be asked to remain where they are (if they are able to safely stay away from others), or they will be asked to move to an isolation room. At this point, if they are not already doing so, they must ensure they are wearing their face covering and limit what they touch.

  3. A member of the Security team (the “incident first responder”) will attend the incident location, always making sure that they put on a face covering, disposable gloves and remain 2 metres from the staff member with suspected symptoms. If the staff member is not already doing so, the incident first responder will ask the staff member to wear their face covering. The incident first responder will ask further questions to ascertain whether first aid or further medical advice is required, or if the staff member can safely get home to self-isolate.

  4. A member of the Security Team will also ask questions on where the member of staff has been on campus and with whom they have been in close contact. In addition to information obtained from the member of staff, details of areas where they have swiped their staff smartcard will be obtained.

  5. If the staff member has an injury or condition that is life threatening, the incident first responder, as a trained first aider, will immediately request help to dial 999 and obtain a DEFIB (if required). All first aiders have received updated guidance on dealing with suspected COVID cases, but this will be reissued as part of this incident management plan.

  6. If they have an injury or condition that is non-life threatening, the incident first responder, as a trained first aider, will ask the staff member to self-treat their injury using the guidance and first aid provisions given to them by the incident first responder. This will allow a 2m safe distance to be maintained.

  7. The staff member will be advised to contact NHS Inform to book a test as soon as possible. Further information on booking tests available here

  8. If they have driven, walked or cycled to campus, the staff member must exit the building via the least populated route and make their way home, ensuring they do not interact with other people.

  9. If they have used public transport they should follow the Scottish Government guidance on the use of public transport.

  10. If they are not able to travel home by their own means, the process below should be followed (by the incident first responder) in the order set out:

    • It should be established if a household member can collect the staff member.

    • If not, and the staff member’s home is within travelling distance of the campus, arrangements should be made for a taxi to take them home using Central Taxis (approved for transporting symptomatic individuals home).The member of staff will be required to self-isolate, in line with NHS guidance, along with the rest of their household, until test results are confirmed. The member of staff will be reminded of the need to inform the other members of their household that they will be required to self-isolate also. The process from that point will depend on the results of the test – paragraph 13 below refers.

  11. The member of staff will be required to self-isolate, in line with NHS guidance, along with the rest of their household, until test results are confirmed. The member of staff will be reminded of the need to inform the other members of their household that they will be required to self-isolate also. The process from that point will depend on the results of the test – paragraph 13 below refers
  12. Once all the above steps are complete, the incident first responder will inform the duty Senior Management Team member, University Secretary, Director of Operations and Finance, Head of HR, H&S Adviser and Campus Operations Manager and provide them with a copy of their report. The process will require the incident first responder to upload the report to a folder. This will generate an alert to all relevant staff, advising them of the need to review the report.
  13. As soon as possible, the Campus Operations Manager (or, in their absence, the senior duty member of the Campus Operations team) will arrange for any areas where the member of staff is known to have been to be closed off and cleaned in accordance with agreed protocols.
  14. The staff member must inform the University of the outcome of the Covid-19 test by forwarding confirmation to Security and HR, and informing their line manager.
  15. If the test is confirmed as negative, the staff member should follow the advice on their return to work. Security will confirm the incident as closed once confirmation is received via the incident report process above.
  16. If the test is positive the member of staff must follow NHS guidance, continue to self isolate, and inform Security, their line manager and HR. The confirmed case section of the incident management plan will be implemented.

 

If the University is contacted by the media regarding a suspected case this should not be confirmed or denied and the suggested communication in annex A to this plan should be used.

Student with suspected symptoms of COVID-19

  1. If a student who is present on campus suspects they have symptoms of COVID-19, they must immediately inform Campus Operations (Security) on 2222 (internal phone number) or 0131 474 0000 (external number) or Accommodation Services (if they live on campus) and follow the advice and guidance given. The student should also advise the School Office (schooloffice@qmu.ac.uk). It is preferable that the student uses their phone to contact staff, and that they do not physically present themselves to security or accommodation.
  2. The student will either be asked to remain where they are (if they are able to safely stay away from others), or they will be asked to move to an isolation room. At this point they must ensure they are wearing their face covering and limit what they touch.
  3. A member of the Security team (the “incident first responder”) will attend the incident location, and put on a face covering, disposable gloves and remain 2 metres from the student with suspected symptoms. If they are not already doing so, the student will be asked to wear their face covering. The incident first responder will ask further questions to ascertain whether first aid or further medical advice is required or if the student can safely get back to their accommodation or home to self-isolate.
  4. A member of the Security team will also ask questions on where the student has been on campus and with whom they have been in close contact. If the student lives in accommodation on campus, their flatmates will also be asked with whom they have been in close contact. In addition to information obtained from the students, details of areas where they have swiped their student smartcards will be obtained and the Students’ Union contacted to check for any test and protect details.
  5. If the student has an injury or condition that is life threatening, the incident first responder, as a trained first aider, will immediately request help to dial 999 and obtain a DEFIB (if required). All first aiders have received updated guidance on dealing with suspected COVID cases, but this will be reissued as part of this incident management plan.
  6. If the student has an injury or condition that is non-life threatening, the incident first responder, as a trained first aider, will ask the student to self-treat their injury using the guidance and first aid provisions given to them by the incident first responder. This will allow a 2m safe distance to be maintained.
  7. The student will be advised to contact NHS Inform to book a test as soon as possible. Further information on booking tests is available here.
  8. If the student is staying in accommodation on campus, the incident first responder will liaise directly with Accommodation Services to ensure that the student is supported and that the necessary mitigating actions are put in place to limit interaction with others.
  9. If the student has driven, walked or cycled to campus, the student should exit the building via the least populated route, and make their way home, ensuring they do not interact with other people.
  10. If they have used public transport, they should follow the Scottish Government guidance on then use of public transport.
  11. If they are not able to travel home by their own means, the process below should be followed in the order set out:
    • It should be established whether a household member can collect them.
    • If not, and the student’s home is within travelling distance of the campus, a taxi should be arranged to take the student home using Central Taxis (approved for transporting symptomatic individuals' home).
  12. If the student lives in student accommodation on campus, assistance will be available, if required, to book a taxi to and from a testing site. The University will meet the cost of the taxi fare.
  13. The student will have to self-isolate in line with NHS guidance along with the rest of their household until test results are confirmed. The student will be instructed to inform the other members of their household that they will need to self-isolate also. If the student lives in student accommodation on campus, Accommodation Services will also contact flatmates. If the incident occurs out of working hours, Security will perform this task. The process from that point will depend on the test result (paragraph 17 below refers).
  14. Once all the above steps are complete, the incident first responder will inform the duty Senior Leadership team member, University Secretary, Director of Operations and Finance Head of HR, Health & Safety Adviser, Head of Student Services, Campus Operations Manager and Accommodation Manager (if the student is resident on campus), and provide them with a copy of their report. The process will require the incident first responder to upload the report to a folder. This will generate an alert to all relevant staff advising them of the need to review the report. This must include the School Office (contact schooloffice@qmu.ac.uk); a member of School Office staff will record the student’s absence appropriately on the student records system as part of the central data collection and reporting.
  15. As soon as possible, the Campus Operations Manager (or, in their absence, the senior duty member of the Campus Operations team) will arrange to close off any areas where the student is known to have been, and to arrange that it is cleaned in accordance with agreed protocols.
  16. The student must advise the University of the outcome of the Covid-19 test by contacting Security and Accommodation Services (if they live on campus) and the School Office if they live off campus.
  17. If the test outcome is negative, Security will record the incident as closed once confirmation is received via the incident report process above. The student may return to campus on confirmation of a negative test outcome.
  18. If the test is positive the student must follow NHS guidance, continue to self-isolate. The confirmed case section of the incident management plan will be implemented.

If the University is contacted by the media regarding a suspected case this should not be confirmed or denied and the suggested communication in annex A to this plan should be used.

In order to provide additional background information on suspected cases, Accommodation Services, in liaison with Security, should log all incidents that they attend related to breaches of Covid guidelines.

If a student needs support or advice at any stage in the process, they should contact Student Services in the first instance.

OFF CAMPUS

Staff member/Student becomes symptomatic while off campus/at home

  1. Staff and Students should access information and symptoms checker online at NHS Inform. They can also arrange to book a test or order a home test. If they are unable to access this service online, they should call 0800 028 2816.
  2. The Staff member or Student should call QMU Security on 0131 474 0000 to inform them of their symptoms and the advice given by NHS Inform. The student should also advise the School Office (schooloffice@qmu.ac.uk).
  3. If advised to self-isolate and book a test, Security will ask the staff member/student when they were last on campus (last 48hrs) and what areas they visited.
  4. Once all the above steps are complete, Security will inform the duty Senior Leadership Team member, the Head of HR , Health & Safety Adviser, Campus Operations Manager and, where relevant, the Accommodation Manager, Student Services and School Office, and provide them with a copy of their report. The process will require the member of the Security team to upload the report to a folder. This will generate an e-mail to all relevant staff, advising them of the need to review the report.
  5. As soon as possible, the Campus Operations Manager (or, in their absence, the senior duty member of the Campus Operations team) will arrange for any areas where the student or member of staff is known to have been to be closed off and cleaned in accordance with agreed protocols.

If a student needs support or advice at any stage in the process, they should contact Student Services in the first instance.

Confirmed case

Staff

  1. If the test is positive, the staff member must follow NHS guidance, continue to self-isolate and inform Security, their line manager and the Head of HR. The Security team should inform the Director of Operations & Finance as the Senior Leadership Team Lead Officer. In the event that the Director of Operations & Finance is unavailable, this role will be undertaken by either the University Secretary or the Deputy Principal.
  2. If the information is received out with working hours, the duty member of SLT should be informed, who will take forward Lead Officer responsibilities in the first instance.
  3. The NHS Health Protection Team (HPT) will have been informed independently of the University that there is a positive test and will have in place a process for contacting the University. The key point of contact for the HPT is Campus Operations (Security).
  4. As HPT should have been informed around the same time as the University, and in order to minimise delay, the Lead Officer will also arrange for HPT to be contacted by the University.
  5. In order to keep the Scottish Government informed on cases, the Lead Officer will arrange for the Scottish Government Advanced Learning & Science Directorate (Coronavirus Management Team) to be contacted.
  6. The Lead Officer will ensure that members of the incident management group as detailed below are informed. A WhatsApp group has been set up to facilitate urgent contact. All members of the group should, where feasible, identify an alternate in the event that they are not available, and their teams should be informed to stand by to implement any decisions made as a priority.
    • Members of the Incident Management Group
      • Director of Operations & Finance (Lead Officer)
      • University Secretary
      • Head of Human Resources
      • Head of Planning
      • Director of Marketing & Communications
      • Deputy Director of Estates and Commercial
      • Assistant Secretary, External Liaison and Student Services
      • Assistant Secretary, Registry and Academic Administration
      • Head of Student Services
      • Head of Campus Operations
      • Health & Safety Adviser
      • Accommodation Manager
      • Student President
      • Student Union General Manager
      • NHS Lothian Health Protection Team (HPT)
  7. The Lead Officer will arrange meetings of the incident management group as required. If a decision/action is required rapidly, and it is not possible for the group to meet, the Lead Officer will be responsible for ensuring the decision/action is made/implemented.
  8. If they are capable of doing so, and if they have not done so already when presenting as symptomatic, the member of staff should provide details of where they were working and with whom they have been in close contact. Access to the area(s) will be restricted unless and until cleaning has taken place, and information on contacts will be used to assist with the Test and Protect process. In addition to information obtained from the member of staff, details of areas where they have swiped their staff smartcard will be obtained.
  9. HPT will provide guidance on the need for the self-isolation of others living with the member of staff. See universities and colleges joint plan (this plan will be developed further and update as required).
  10. All members of staff and students will be informed of the confirmed case and the advice issued by HPT. The Director of Marketing & Communications will co-ordinate internal and external communication, taking advice from HPT as appropriate. Additional information on communications is available in the annexes to this plan.

Student

  1. If the test is positive the student must follow NHS guidance, continue to self-isolate and inform Security/Accommodation Services (0131 474 0000). The Security team should inform the Director of Operations & Finance as the Senior Leadership Team Lead Officer. In the event that the Director of Operations & Finance is unavailable, this role will be undertaken by either the University Secretary or the Deputy Principal.
  2. If the information is received out with working hours, the duty member of SLT should be informed, who will be take forward Lead Officer responsibilities in the first instance.
  3. The NHS Health Protection Team (HPT) will have been informed independently of the positive test, and will put in place its process for contacting the University. The key point of contact for the HPT is Campus Operations (Security).
  4. In order to minimise delay, the Lead Officer will also arrange for HPT to be contacted by the University.
  5. In order to keep the Scottish Government informed on cases, the Lead Officer will arrange for the Scottish Government Advanced Learning & Science Directorate (Coronavirus Management Team) to be contacted.
  6. If the student lives in accommodation on campus, agreed procedures for Student Accommodation Services will be activated immediately on receipt of the confirmed test result. This will include providing support to other students and implementing additional cleaning as required.
  7. The Lead Officer will ensure that members of the incident management group as detailed below are informed. All members of the group should, where feasible, identify an alternate in the event that they are not available and their teams should be informed to stand by to implement any decisions made as a priority.
    • Members of the Incident Management Group
      • Director of Operations & Finance (Lead Officer)
      • University Secretary
      • Head of Human Resources
      • Head of Planning
      • Director of Marketing & Communications
      • Deputy Director of Estates and Commercial
      • Assistant Secretary, External Liaison and Student Services
      • Assistant Secretary, Registry and Academic Administration
      • Head of Student Services
      • Head of Campus Operations
      • Health & Safety Adviser
      • Accommodation Manager
      • Student President
      • Student General Manager
      • NHS Lothian Health Protection Team (HPT)
  8. The Lead Officer will arrange meetings of the incident management group as required. A WhatsApp group has been set up to facilitate urgent contact. If a decision/action is required rapidly, and it is not possible for the group to meet, the Lead Officer will be responsible for ensuring the decision/action is made/implemented.
  9. If they are capable of doing so, and if they have not done so already when presenting as symptomatic, the student should provide details of where they were working or socialising on campus and with whom they have been in close contract. Access to the area will be restricted unless and until cleaning has taken place and information on contacts will be used to assist with the Test and Protect process. If the student lives in accommodation on campus, their flatmates will also be asked with whom they have been in close contact. In addition to information obtained from the students, details of areas where they have swiped their student smartcards will be obtained and the Student’s Union contacted to check for any test and protect details.
  10. HPT will provide guidance on the need for the self-isolation of others living with the student. See universities and colleges joint pan (this plan will be developed further and updated as required).
  11. All members of staff and students will be advised that there is a confirmed case (with confidentiality maintained), once all contacts have been identified and contacted and will be provided with the advice issued by HPT. The Director of Marketing and Communications will co-ordinate internal and external communication, taking advice from HPT as appropriate. Additional information on communications is available in the annexes to this plan.

More than one confirmed case

  1. The NHS definition of an outbreak is where there are two or more probable/confirmed cases occurring in the University within 14 days.
  2. Communication of additional cases will be along the lines set out above, and the HPT outbreak management procedure will be initiated. See universities and colleges joint plan (this plan will be developed further and updated as required).

Noticeable increase in absence rates

Where there is a noticeable increase in staff/student absence rates due to suspected cases of Covid19, the NHS HPT should be contacted and the Incident Management Group should be convened as above.

 

Annex A - Outbreak Communications Channels and Tactics

Channels

Primary: 

  • Website
  • Facebook and Twitter
  • Moderator
  • (Intranet if time permits)
  • SMS – in particular circumstances (via June Ross)
  • Plus potentially the media

Other options

  • Signs in University Square
  • Posters in halls

Note on communication tactics HPS have indicated that they might use: HPS might arrange an ‘inform and advise letter’; communication to students and staff on same course, in same halls; alert to other universities, colleges;

Agree Spokesperson

Principal, or failing that the Lead Officer.

Lead Officer is the signatory of communications to staff and students. If the Lead Officer is not available and the communication is urgent, the communications team member would seek the approval of the Deputy Principal, or University Secretary or the Principal.

Some Communications Principles

In an acute situation (eg during closure, first case, etc) Lead Officer and Director of Marketing and Communications to check in with each other at the start and end of each working day, and, if necessary agree arrangements for the weekend, factoring in involvement of HPS as appropriate.

We will never promise communications to the University community for first thing in the morning or at the end of the working day as it can be very challenging to fulfil such specific promises.

We will communicate as early as possible, honestly and aim to minimise fear and confusion. We will aim to keep our communications simple. We will not overdo frequency of communications as this can make people blind to important information when it is published and distract the Incident Team from substantive action.

Draft statement

In the event of a suspected case (if there were speculation or we are contacted by the media)

NB: We will not comment on a suspected case and should issue the statement below if required.

We have well established processes in place in the event of a suspected case on campus, including communication as appropriate. Our processes adhere to guidance from Health Protection Scotland. Alongside this, of course, everyone in the University community should follow NHS’s advice to help avoid the spread of coronavirus.

In the event of a confirmed case (any final statement would be agreed between QMU and NHS Lothian Communications)

QMU can confirm that a member of the University community has a confirmed case of coronavirus.

The individual concerned is isolating at home and is giving no cause for concern.

The University is following all relevant procedures, working in partnership with Health Protection Scotland.

The individual concerned has had limited contact with a small group of individuals at the University who have all been contacted, are well and have no symptoms

In line with official government advice, the University has a robust approach in place to monitor and mitigate the impact of coronavirus. The campus remains very much open for business as usual, with sensible precautions in place. Students and staff should continue to attend the University as usual.

Alongside this, of course, everyone in the University community should follow NHS’s advice to help avoid the spread of coronavirus.

Sir Paul Grice, Principal of QMU said: ‘On behalf of everyone at QMU, I wish the individual concerned a speedy recovery. Alongside this, I emphasise to students and staff that there is no need for undue concern, and that they should continue with their work and studies as usual, confident in the robust procedures that the University and Health Protection Scotland have in place. In addition, students and staff may find the coronavirus FAQs on our website helpful”

NHS Communication Team contact details

Media Enquiries & Contacts. NHS Lothian operates a 24/7 service to respond to media enquiries. For enquiries by journalists during normal office hours (9.00am – 5.00pm) please either telephone 0131 465 5644 or email Lothian.Media@nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk. For emergency media enquiries outside normal office hours, please telephone 07770 396958.

Annex B - System for Communication Any COVID-19 Outbreak to Local Stakeholders

This document supplements, and should be read alongside, the University’s COVID-19 Incident Management Plan. It lists stakeholders with whom we might need to communicate in the event of a COVID outbreak, and the person responsible for communicating with each individual stakeholder group. Depending on the situation, we might not need to communicate with all of these stakeholders. Decisions on which stakeholders to communicate with would be situation dependent, and would be decided by the Lead Officer, in conjunction with the Incident Group.

Stakeholder Communicator
Primary  
Communicable diseases contacts at other universities (as per universities and colleges joint plan) Irene Hynd, University Secretary
Other Edinburgh based university communication teams Jane Scott, Director of Marketing and Communications
Court Irene Hynd
Riverside Medical Practice Yvonne Simpson, Assistant Secretary, External Relations and Student Services
All students in University accommodation Via Bruce Laing, Deputy Director Estates & Commercial, Facilities Services, Paul Sibanda, as Accommodation Manager or Nicola in Paul’s team as back up. Through ‘Occam’, the Accommodation team can email all students or residences of particular blocks or flats (but cannot text and cannot verify as read). Paul Sibanda, has a COVID specific protocol for accommodation (including communications). 
Students on courses where there are affected students June Ross, Assistant Secretary, Registry, through SITS, her team can email students or message them via SMS, including by course cohort, or if they are given student numbers.
All students Jane Scott, involving June Ross if we decide SMS communications is necessary
Students who attended a particular class Through Bruce Laing, we can get details of students who register for a class via ERA. With their student numbers, June Ross can arrange SMS or email messaging. (We cannot tell if a student opens an email or text but SITS will record if they have been sent).
All staff Jane Scott
Reception and security staff Bruce Laing guided by MCO. Reception staff will need to know about comms lines, comms sent and where to direct further queries.
Local media Jane Scott
Facilities users (eg external gym or café users) Bruce Laing
Scottish Government Coronavirus Outbreak Management Team (David Robb)

Scottish Government Coronavirus Outbreak Management Team (David Robb)

Malcolm Cutt, Director of Operations & Finance

General  MCO can post any communication on the COVID website
Secondary  
East Lothian Council Malcolm Cutt, Director of Operations and Finance
MSP Paul Grice, Principal, via Jane Scott
Local ward councillors Paul Grice, via Jane Scott
Community Council Jane Scott
Less relevant  
Donors Jane Scott
Graduates Association Jane Scott

The communications team and others can draw on the Scottish Government’s coronavirus communications toolkit (for social media assets, posters etc).

With the above toolkit, there is a specific toolkit on local outbreaks (but we should check with the Scottish Government contacts listed in that toolkit before using any of the assets).

QMU COVID Inbox

Our dedicated COVID email is now open for students who want to speak directly to someone at QMU about any COVID-related questions or concerns. 

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QMU COVID Inbox

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