BRIEFING – ACTION PLAN ABOUT COVID-19 AND USEFUL INFORMATION
 
Taking into consideration the large extent of transmission of COVID – 19 – new corona virus – globally, the University of Cyprus (UCY) has prepared an Action Plan for the prevention and planning for the treatment of potential cases, and for providing guidance to the community with regards to various questions.

For an effective management of the issue, the university community is advised to remain calm. Without panicking and with personal accountability we are all required to assume our share of responsibility for the protection of ourselves and our fellow citizens, especially the vulnerable groups. Preventive measures and personal hygiene must be a priority in order to address the epidemic more efficiently. People who present with respiratory tract infections are encouraged to stay at home, while all the members of our community should avoid traveling to high risk countries.

For the management of the issue, a Crisis Management Committee within the UCY has been formed and the following actions were decided upon:
 
1. Installation of antiseptics in all sanitary facilities, teaching facilities, and other common areas. You will be notified with relevant information (map) about the specific areas of installation, soon. On this link you can watch a short video on the proper washing of hands.

2. Release of a website: https://ucy.ac.cy/hr/en/covid-19-action-plan, exclusively on the matter of COVID-19, which will include useful information and updates on the latest news about the subject. Specifically, the website (in Greek and English language) will be referring to the following:

A. Q&A (Questions & Answers) related to the new corona virus. In these posts, questions by students and staff members concerning the epidemic, traveling, etc. will be answered.

For further information there are links provided for the websites below:

B. Cyprus Ministry of Health Websitehttps://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/ 
C. World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 
D. ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control): https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/novel-coronavirus-china 
E. Traveling Instructions and emergency announcements by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning COVID-19. Members of the community are advised to abide by the traveling instructions and act proactively regarding their future plans: http://www.mfa.gov.cy/mfa/mfa2016.nsf/All/589C9D577532ED47C225852100311D60?OpenDocument 
F. List of countries with confirmed cases documented on a regular basis: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/685d0ace521648f8a5beeeee1b9125cd 
G. Greece’s National Public Health Organization Website: https://eody.gov.gr/ 
H. UK Public Health Website (PHE): https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance 
 
3. Emergency Contact Numbers for management and immediate action:
  • UCY Health Centers:
    +357 22895270 University Campus
  • +357 22895280 Kallipoleos
  • Safety, Health and Environment Sector: +357 22894147, Mob.: +357 99419007

 
 
QUESTIONS – ANSWERS ABOUT COVID -19
This text was based on recent equivalent texts issued by the World Health Organization, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the Greece National Public Health Organization (ΕΟΔΥ) and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Cyprus.
5 March 2020.
 
Questions – Answers about COVID -19

1. What is the new coronavirus?
2. How dangerous is this virus?
3. How is the virus transmitted?
4. How long does the virus survive on surfaces?
5. What is the duration of incubation time?
6. Can the virus be transmitted from a person carrying the disease without presenting symptoms?
7. Is it safe to receive a package I ordered from China?
8. Can I prevent the disease by using antibiotics?
9. What are the symptoms of the new coronavirus disease?
10. Are there people who are more likely to develop severe symptoms?
11. When should someone get checked up for the new coronavirus disease?
12. Is there a specific cure for the new coronavirus disease?
13. What does it mean to have had contact with the virus?
14. When is it considered that someone has been exposed to a patient (high risk exposure)?
15. What is considered a low degree exposure (accidental or occasional contact)?
16. What measures are recommended by the Ministry of Health for the management of contact with high risk exposure?
17. What measures are recommended by the Ministry of Health for the management of low risk contacts?
18. I plan to travel to an area that has an increased number of cases. Should I cancel my trip?
19. What should I do when I return from traveling?
20. If I traveled to a country that is not on the list of countries with increased virus incidence and transmission (see paragraph 16) what do I do after my arrival to Cyprus? - NOT APPLY
21. What must be done when a student or a staff member of the university community shows respiratory symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, etc.) on the university campus and according to his/her travel history he/she had traveled in any country or had close contact with a confirmed case (check paragraph 14)?
22. How can I protect myself from the new coronavirus?
23. Can I use a face mask for my protection?
 
 
 1. What is the new coronavirus?
It is a new virus that was first identified in the city of Wuhan in China, in 2019. It belongs to the family of coronaviruses. Even though within the same family of coronaviruses there are several widespread viruses that cause a “common cold” – which is considered a non-life-threatening condition – this virus, as well as the genetically related SARS virus which emerged in 2002, usually cause a more severe clinical picture in patients.

The new coronavirus has recently been named SARS-CoV-2 to highlight its relation/similarity with the SARS virus which also caused severe problems. The virus disease was named COVID-19 based on the initials of the rona rus Disease which emerged in 2019.
 
 2. How dangerous is this virus?
Like other respiratory infections, the new coronavirus can cause mild respiratory disease symptoms such as rhinorrhea (runny nose), sore throat, cough and fever. Some people, though, might present more severe symptoms which can cause pneumonia or shortness of breath and the patient might need to be hospitalized. More rarely it can cause death. The people who are more vulnerable to the virus and at increased risk for serious illness from it, are elderly people and people with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, and heart disease.
 
 3. How is the virus transmitted?
The current epidemiological data indicate that the virus is transmitted via respiratory droplets or secretions which are produced while sneezing, coughing or breathing out. At this stage, it is still unclear if transmission can be airborne or fecal-oral.

It is crucial that anyone who coughs or sneezes, covers their faces with a paper towel, which is immediately disposed of after use, and washes their hands immediately.

Frequent washing of hands with soap and water is very important. If hands are not visibly dirty from secretions or other organic matter, one can also wash their hands with a 70% alcohol solution.
 
  4. How long does the virus survive on surfaces?
This is not fully known, yet. There are some preliminary data indicating that the virus can survive for a few hours or longer. The virus is easily destroyed by common antiseptics.
 
 5. What is the duration of incubation time?
Incubation time is the period between a person’s exposure to the virus until the onset of their symptoms. Even though the median duration of incubation time is 5 – 6 days, it can range from 2 – 14 days.
 
  6. Can the virus be transmitted from a person carrying the disease without presenting symptoms?
So far, we know that the virus can be transmitted during the period a patient presents with symptoms of the disease. However, there are some things that remain unknown, as to whether patients with very mild symptoms or even no symptoms at all, can also transmit the disease.
 
 7. Is it safe to receive a package I ordered from China?
Yes, it is safe. People who receive packages from China are at no risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From previous experience with other coronaviruses, we know that these viruses do not survive for long on objects like letters or packages.

  8. Can I prevent the disease by using antibiotics?
No, antibiotics cannot protect you from viruses. Antibiotics can protect you from bacteria. This specific pathogen is a virus; therefore, antibiotics do not have any effect.

 9. What are the symptoms of the new coronavirus disease?
The virus can cause mild flu-like symptoms, such as:
• Fever
• Cough
• Muscle and joint pains
• Fatigue
• Shortness of breath
Most patients present with mild symptoms. In more serious cases, patients can develop severe pneumonia, severe respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock, which can even lead to death.

 10. Are there people who are more likely to develop severe symptoms?
In general, elderly people and people with underlying chronic conditions (e.g. hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, liver disease, and chronic respiratory diseases) are more likely to develop severe symptoms.

 11. When should someone get checked up for the new coronavirus disease?
According to the updated definition of the ECDC, the Cyprus Ministry of Health, and the Greece National Health Organization a patient should present with:
Acute respiratory infection (sudden onset of disease, with at least one of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath), with or without the need for hospitalization, and at least one of the following epidemiological criteria, within the last 14 days immediately preceding the onset of symptoms:
• Close contact with potential or confirmed disease case or
• Travel history to countries with an increased number of cases, and continuous transmission within the community.

 12. Is there a specific cure for the new coronavirus disease?
There is no specific cure for the virus. The treatment that is provided is supportive (if necessary: respiratory support, fluid or antiviral medications, which do not yet have a confirmed effect against the virus).

 13. What does it mean to have had contact with the virus?
A person who has had contact with the virus is a person who does not currently appear symptoms of the disease, and may have had contact with a patient infected with the virus. This patient might have clinical disease symptoms or be asymptomatic.

 14. When is it considered that someone has been exposed to a patient (high risk exposure)?
• A person residing in the same place as a patient
• A person who had direct physical contact with the patient (e.g. by handshake)
• A person who was exposed to infectious biological secretions of the patient without protective measures (e.g. at a short distance from the patient when he/she coughed or had contact with used tissues).
• A person who had face-to-face contact with a person infected with the virus at a distance of < 2 meters for longer than 15’.
• A person who was in an indoor space (e.g. classroom, conference/meeting room, hospital waiting room, etc.) with an infected person for 15’ or longer, and at a distance of < 2 meters.
• A health professional or other health care provider of a person – a confirmed case of the virus, without the recommended protective measures.
• A person in an aircraft cabin seated at a distance of two-four rows from a patient of the virus, travelers or cabin crew members in the aircraft section where the patient was seated. If the patient used more areas of the cabin, the number of people exposed to close contact with the patient may be increased.

 15. What is considered a low degree exposure (accidental or occasional contact)?
• A person who was in an indoor space with a patient for less than 15’ or at a distance longer than 2 meters.
• A person who had face-to-face contact with a patient (at a distance less than 2 meters) but for less than 15’.
• A person residing in an area where there is an increased number of incidents and continuous transmission within it (see paragraph 18).

 16. What measures are recommended by the Ministry of Health for the management of contact with high risk exposure?
Self-isolation and active monitoring by Public Health Authorities for a period of 14 days after the last exposure to the disease.
• Daily monitoring for symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath.
• Instructions to avoid social contacts.
• Instructions to avoid traveling or public transport.

 17. What measures are recommended by the Ministry of Health for the management of low risk contacts?
• Self-isolation at home and avoiding close contact with other people, as should be done in cases of the flu for 14 days after their last exposure to the risk or their departure from the country.
• Instructions for self-monitoring for their temperature and other potential COVID-19 symptoms, such as cough or shortness of breath during this time.
It should be noted that people, irrespective of whether their exposure is considered high or low risk, must be voluntarily isolated and contact health services should any symptoms arise within 14 days from their last exposure to the risk.
If no symptoms appear within 14 days from their last exposure to the risk, the person is no longer considered a potential COVID-19 patient.
According to the latest update by the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation, each case of a person dismissed from work due to low or high-risk exposure to the new coronavirus, as long as he/she holds the appropriate certificate issued by the Ministry of Health, his/her absence will be handled as if it was a leave due to illness.
 
 18. I plan to travel to an area that has an increased number of cases. Should I cancel my trip?
You may find the latest announcements on the subject, issued by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Cyprus, here: https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/press.html
 
On the basis of current data that the virus has established a continuous transmission to the community and in addition of the strict measures that have been taken by the state to restrict access to Cyprus, to visitors from all countries,members of the academic community are urged to postpone/reschedule all their trips until 30 April 2020.
 
In fact, it is difficult to predict the date on which these measures will cease to apply. This will depend on the situation as it is until then. For already arranged non-emergency trips, community members are strongly encouraged to reschedule them.
 

 19. What should I do when I return from traveling?
 
According to the recent decrees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, no one will be able to enter the Republic of Cyprus, from traveling to any country, unless it comes under specific categories (see Travel Guide dated 16/3/20) and in addition submit on arrival a medical examination certificate for the coronavirus, not older than 4 days, from certified medical centers of their country of origin.
 
- Members of the academic community should contact the Safety, Health and Environment Sector of the University (tel. +357 22894147, mob.: +357 99419007) to report their travel history in order to advice and make the necessary arrangements.
 
All travelers returning to Cyprus from abroad, regardless of their country of origin, will be placed under a 14-day compulsory quarantine at accommodation facilities designated by the Republic of Cyprus, according to the TRAVEL ADVICE Issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 16/03/2020.
 
 
 20. If I traveled to a country that is not on the list of countries with increased virus incidence and transmission (see paragraph 16) what do I do after my arrival to Cyprus? - NOT APPLY
 

 21. What must be done when a student or a staff member of the university community shows respiratory symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, etc.) on the university campus and according to his/her travel history he/she had traveled in any country or had close contact with a confirmed case (check paragraph 14)?

- They should automatically leave the area and isolate themselves in a space away from others.
- They should notify 1420 and inform them of their symptoms and their travel history
- They may also call one of these emergency contact numbers of University for assistance:

Emergency Contact Numbers for management and immediate action:
 
Health Centers UCY: +357 22895270 University Campus, +357 22895280 Kallipoleos
Safety, Health and Environment Sector: +357 22894147, Mob.: +357 99419007

 22. How can I protect myself from the new coronavirus?
General preventive measures against the spread of respiratory viruses, including the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2):
Α. Personal hygiene guidelines:
• Stay at home and refrain from attending classes or working with anyone with symptoms of respiratory infection.
• Avoid close contact, whenever possible, with anyone with respiratory symptoms, such as cough or sneezing.
• Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth to reduce the risk of infection.
• Avoid sharing pencils, pens, markers and other personal items.
• When coughing or sneezing, cover the nose and mouth with the sleeve at elbow height or with a tissue, and dispose the used tissue in the nearest trash bin, and thoroughly wash your hands.
• Regular and thorough washing of hands with liquid soap and water, for at least 20’’, before eating and after visiting the bathroom, and carefully dry your hands with disposable paper towels.
• As an alternative to washing your hands, hand spraying with an antiseptic alcohol solution can be applied or antiseptic wipes. The bottle with the antiseptic liquid should be near the exit of the classroom.
Β. Cleaning and disinfection instructions:
• Regular and effective ventilation of all areas, especially during breaks between lectures.
• In addition to regular cleaning, frequent cleaning of widely used surfaces (e.g. doorknobs, handles, ladders or railing, taps, etc.) with common cleaners, i.e. liquid soap and water, or household bleach/chlorine 10% (1-part household chlorine diluted in 10-parts of water) or alcohol antiseptics.
• Use disposable gloves and cleaning uniforms.
• The use of disposable gloves does not in any way replace washing of hands.

 23. Can I use a face mask for my protection?
The use of surgical masks is not recommended to the healthy population. It has been found to be effective in the case of patients wearing them, thereby preventing the spread of the disease from them to others. There is not enough evidence that proves their effectiveness when worn by healthy people.