How to protect yourself from coronavirus and stay healthy in London this term

19 September 2020

In this guest article written by Dr Julie Billett, Director of Public Health for Camden and Islington, you'll hear more about how to protect yourself from coronavirus (COVID-19) in London.

Woman wearing a face mask holding an umbrella

The majority of you reading this blog will be students starting your first year of university. I hope you enjoy your first days and weeks as a university student and for those of you who’ve moved to London or the UK, I hope you love studying here. For those of you who are returning students, welcome back to London! I wanted to share some tips to help you all stay healthy and protect you from coronavirus this term.

1. Follow public health advice to protect yourself from coronavirus 

At the time of writing, cases of coronavirus have been increasing across London since the beginning of August. Please keep following public health advice to prevent yourself catching it as per the below graphic which includes: regularly washing your hands, social distancing and wearing a face covering over your mouth and nose in all indoor public spaces.

Infographic 'Cases of coronavirus are rising in London' showing public health advice

The information in the infographic above and more can be found on the Camden Council website

2. If you develop coronavirus symptoms, self-isolate and get tested

If you develop symptoms:

  • Stay at home and do not go on to campus. If you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms whilst on campus, you must travel to your place of residence as quickly as possible, in line with Government advice. Visit the UCL website for a step-by-step guide to reporting potential cases.
  • Self-isolate and organise a test from the NHS Test and Trace scheme at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119
  • Let UCL know straight away through the UCL Connect to Protect tool - UCL’s online tool for staff and students designed to help monitor and respond to coronavirus cases at UCL
  • You might want to let your housemates and anyone you’ve been in close contact with in the past 48 hours know so they can look out for symptoms whilst you wait to hear from NHS Test and Trace

If you’re living with someone who develops COVID symptoms:

  • Self-isolate for 14 days 
  • Take extra care to keep your house or flat clean 
  • Wash your hands more regularly – particularly after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose
  • Keep an eye on the person who has symptoms to make sure they’re ok – while maintaining distance from them. For example, consider leaving meals outside their bedroom door so they don’t need to use the kitchen 
  • You should not get tested unless you develop symptoms

3. If you have any trouble accessing a test, please keep trying

At the time of writing, some Londoners were struggling to access a coronavirus test. If this happens to you, please keep trying. More tests should become available throughout the day at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. In the meantime, it’s really important to self-isolate to prevent yourself from passing it on. 

4. Regularly clean your shared flat or house to prevent the spread of coronavirus

Preventing the spread of coronavirus can be more difficult when you’re living in close proximity to other people, so try and keep surfaces in shared areas clean and take extra care to clean areas that you touch a lot – e.g. door handles, cupboards, kettles, toasters, bottle openers and washing machines. And if you can, use paper towels to dry your hands and air dry your dishes but if that’s not possible, regularly wash shared hand towels and tea-towels where germs can linger.

5. Be kind and look after each other

I know that starting university can be really exciting but some people – staff and students – might be feeling overwhelmed or anxious for a variety of reasons. So bear this in mind and remember that not everyone will find it easy to talk about how they’re feeling.

It’s also worth flagging that while following public health advice will reduce your risk of catching coronavirus, it won’t eliminate the risk completely. So if someone you know or live with develops symptoms, check if they’re ok and see if you can help with anything.

6. Get the flu jab – especially if you were shielding

The flu jab will not protect you from coronavirus however, it will protect you from the flu. If you were shielding, have a long-term health condition, you’re pregnant, or you live with someone who falls into one of these categories, you’ll be able to get a free flu jab. Protecting yourself against the flu is really important because it will help you stay well this this winter. To book, ask your pharmacist or GP (doctor) for more information.

7. Keep up to date on the latest advice

UCL is in the London borough of Camden. To stay in touch with Camden Council, you can:

You can also read the latest guidance from UCL on coronavirus here.

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have a great first term at UCL!

Dr Julie Billett, Director of Public Health, Camden and Islington