I am writing to you with an update on the new corona virus and our response. There are currently no confirmed cases in the ACT, but this may change.
We are closely following public health information and expert advice from the Australian Chief Medical Officer. In addition, we have convened a panel of ANU infectious disease experts - some of the nation and the world's leading thinkers in this area - to provide us with additional advice.
We are also working closely with relevant Government agencies, and the University has a pandemic plan in place which can be rapidly enacted should the need arise.
We're continuing business as usual but have stepped up support for our community, including for those members of our community in affected areas.
In line with the advice of health officials, we don't expect a delay to semester and are not planning at this stage to cancel orientation week, welcome activities, or commencement.
We are committed to supporting the academic success of our students and ensuring the semester proceeds as normally as possible, and will use a high degree of flexibility as needed. This includes alternative arrangements for students who may not be able to travel back to Australia from affected areas, or who may have a delayed arrival onto campus.
We know that many will be concerned about this virus. We've posted comprehensive health information on our website, including information from the Chief Medical Officer. Keep an eye on the website, which we'll update regularly with comprehensive information. We'll send major updates to our community via email, social media and the ANU OK App.
The most useful thing we can all do to help prevent the spread of disease is to follow basic health precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, carry hand sanitiser with you and use it often;
- Keep a distance from sick people, especially if they have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing;
- Monitor your health closely;
- See a health care professional immediately if you start feeling unwell and share your full travel history with your health care provider immediately when booking your appointment; and
- Practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, wash hands).
We understand news like this can be distressing or cause anxiety, and that this has been an unusually stressful start to the year. We have additional support in place for all in our community who need it.
Counselling is available for staff and their family members through Assure - 1800 808 374 (this number operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week) and Relationships Australia - 02 6122 7100. Appointments can be taken in person or over the phone. Staff can also access counselling from the Advisers to Staff via firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 6125 8383 / 02 6125 3616.
Students can access support via ANU Crisis Support Line on 1300 050 327 or via SMS Text message service on 0488 884 170. You can find additional information on mental health and wellbeing, as well as links to critical services.
Most importantly, the current situation once again shows it is important that we be kind to each other and that we look out for all members of the ANU community.
This has been an extremely testing summer for many of us. But as we have shown time and again, in the face of these challenges we rise to meet them together as a community that is generous, caring, understanding and patient.
I thank you all again for your resilience and for your commitment to the wellbeing of all in our community.