Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill. WHO is assessing ongoing research on the period of transmission of COVID-19 and will continue to share updated findings.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

While we are still learning about how COVID-2019 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment). If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

The UWI Mona has been actively monitoring the situation with COVID-19 globally since late January as we made plans for our own students in China. In late February, the campus activated its Emergency Management Response Committee and developed the Campus Response Plan for COVID-19 to manage the effective implementation of the plan. The team compromises the Mona Campus' Chief Safety and Emergency Officer, a multi-disciplinary team of academics and administrators who collaborate with our Regional University Task Force and local health authorities and agencies. Below are some measures the University has implemented to reduce the risk of transmission within our community to date:

  • Public Education and Awareness for the campus and wider community
  • Suspension of Gate Passes
  • International Travel Restriction for Staff
  • Withdrawal of Students in the Faculty of Medical Sciences from emergency rooms and casualty departments in hospitals across the country
  • Training of support staff for effective cleaning and frequent cleaning and sanitization of office and classroom spaces and halls of residence
  • Cancellation/Suspension of all non-essential campus events
  • Suspension Classes and cancellation of exams
  • Closure of sporting and recreational spaces (Mona Bowl)
  • Encourage online and telephone support services and further restricted face-to-face interactions with customers
  • Reduction in population density on campus by allowing students in Halls of residence to return home and staff to work from home (essential staff on campus only)

As the leading teaching and research University in the Caribbean, many depend on us and will continue to depend on us throughout this growing crises. Our very own doctors and nurses are on the frontline and we too have a role to play.

Our challenge is to balance our response to the pandemic - the protection of our students and staff, while maintaining the essential operations of our University – which also serves to benefit members of the wider community. For the most part, the University will be pivoting to a very different but necessary mode of 'remote work', however, there are some teams that will be needed to ensure the health and safety of not just our very own students and staff, but those in surrounding communities.

You may visit the following website for campus updates and general resources for COVID-19 virus: https://www.mona.uwi.edu/covid19

If you do not see the answers to your questions or concerns, please send an email to covid19questions@uwimona.edu.jm . We are happy to hear from you.

If you experience flu-like or COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately then call the Ministry of Health and Wellness: 888- ONE-LOVE (888-663-5683). Please also notify your Hall Manager/SSDM. See more on Procedures to follow at https://www.mona.uwi.edu/covid19

If you think you need support or recognise someone who does, do not hesitate to contact the UWIHELPS telephone counselling service: 876-294-0042 Text/Whatsapp/Call (24 hours) or the University Counselling Services:

  • Counsellors
    • 876-521-3473 (Text/Whatsapp/Call)
    • 876-551-0118 (Text/Call)
  • Psychiatrist
    • 876-551-0118 (Text/Call)

While we encourage Jamaican students to go home in order to reduce the population on campus, we understand that some students may have challenges going home. Please contact your SSDM or the Director of Student Services for assistance if needed. We have made accommodation for international and regional students who might find it challenging to return home.

All international and regional students are welcomed to stay on hall if they are unable to make arrangements for their return home. Students remaining on campus will however be asked to adhere to the instituted protocols to protect all members of our community. Students wishing to return home are encouraged to make contact with the Health authority in their home country and the local embassy/consulate before making travel arrangements. Students are also reminded to inform their Hall Manager/SSDM of their decision to return home.

Classes will resume on April 14, 2020 in either a face to face or online mode. We are aware of the difficulties students might face as they cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 within their respective communities. The Mona Campus is mindful that there are students who are currently in the process of moving off-campus as well as students who have no access to internet facilities off-campus. We factored this in when we made our decision to suspend classes for four weeks. The four-week suspension of classes is to help with our own transition to online platforms as well as to allow students time to put their own plans in place as we transition to the planned remote and online mode of teaching and learning.

No. All teaching and learning activities (quizzes, assignments, exams, discussions, tutorials etc.) are also suspended when the University issues suspension of classes. All mid-semester examinations were also suspended effective March 13, 2020. A new schedule for exams, assignment due dates etc. will be shared with students when classes resume.

The Mona Campus is mindful that there are students who have no access to internet facilities off-campus. We factored that in when we made our decision to suspend classes for four weeks. The four-week suspension of classes is to help with our own transition to online platforms as well as to allow students time to put their own plans in place as we transition to the planned remote and online mode of teaching and learning.

We are also in dialogue with service providers to see how best our students can be facilitated.

We will try as best as possible to have recorded content for students to access within their own time rather than live classes in the majority of cases. We are doing our best to ensure that students will not be disadvantaged.

If we resume classes in face to face mode on April 14th we will seek to conduct the Guild of Students Elections at the earliest possible time in April. If the campus resorts to online teaching, then consideration is being given to online voting for the elections. We have an online voting platform that has been piloted.

The libraries will have reduced opening hours during the suspension period. Opening hours will be Mon –Fri 8:30 am to 4:30pm only. Entertainment facilities, gyms and sporting facilities at the Mona Bowl are currently closed to reduce the spread of illness. All athletic training programmes have also been suspended. Further closure notices of campus facilities may be issued as required. Please check your emails and the following website frequently for further updates: https://www.mona.uwi.edu/covid19

Campus dining facilities remain open to serve essential workers and students remaining on Hall. We cannot however guarantee that food establishments will remain open for the entire duration of limited business operations. Also, if there is a need to further reduce our campus operations, then it is likely that food establishments/dining facilities on campus will be closed. As such, we urge students remaining on campus to stock up on essential food items for personal meal preparation in the event of further closures. Please remember to practice social distancing when in public spaces.

Heads of Department and Administrative units are being given the flexibility to determine support required for the continuity of business at The UWI Mona. Managers are being asked to consider support services that will be required to facilitate the continuity of teaching and learning at The Mona Campus and general operation of the campus to support students whilst on Halls (energy and water supply teams etc.)

Please contact your manager or Head of Department if you are unsure of your role during the period of reduced business operation.

The University has taken care to ensure a sanitary environment for staff with additional sanitization of frequent touch areas such as door knobs, rails etc. We have also manufactured our own supply of hand sanitizer through the Departments of Chemistry and Basic Medical Sciences to alleviate shortage in supply across campus. The relevant protective gear will be provided to teams that will require same. Additionally, all members of staff that are required to be at work are asked to follow the instituted protocols to ensure the safety of the campus community. Team members are also encouraged to practice social distancing – maintaining a distance of 2 metres or 6 feet from others. Frequent hand-washing is also encouraged. If you have an underlying medical condition (hypertension, diabetes, asthma etc.), please report to your manager/HOD (you do not need to specify what the condition is).

Procedure for the treatment of the following in relation to COVID19:

  1. Self-quarantine or Self-isolation
    Self-quarantine or self-isolation is applicable to a person who is well or apparently well, who has reason to believe that he or she may have been exposed to a carrier of the corona virus. Such a person is encouraged to phone the hotlines provided by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. If self-quarantine or self-isolation is recommended, the person affected shall inform the Campus as soon as possible through his or her Head of department. The period of confinement will be treated as Special Leave.
  2. Community quarantine
    Community quarantine is applicable to a member of staff who lives in a community that has been quarantined by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. The affected member of staff shall inform the Campus as soon as possible through his or her Head of Department. The period of confinement shall be treated as Special Leave.
  3. Sick Leave
    A member of staff who is absent from work because of illness associated with the corona virus shall be entitled to sick leave. The existing protocol relative to the application for sick leave set out in his or her terms and conditions of service shall apply.