Infectious illnesses

In a close-knit community like a university, we must all be vigilant to prevent infectious diseases.

Knowing how to recognise and treat these conditions, and when you should stay at home, is the best way to prevent them spreading. 

We strongly recommend that you:

- Follow NHS guidance for vaccinations, including Covid-19 and seasonal flu jabs

- Stay home if you feel ill

- Keep shared spaces well ventilated

- Wear a face covering in busy indoor areas, and wash your hands regularly


The symptoms of Covid-19 vary but may include a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Check the latest NHS advice

Coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

What should I do if I think I have Covid-19?

If you have symptoms, you should follow the latest NHS advice. We strongly recommend that you do not come to campus if you have symptoms of Covid-19: although the legal requirement for self-isolation has ended, the NHS still advise that you stay at home if possible and advises what to do if you have tested positive.

Do not go to a GP surgery or hospital

For medical advice, please use the NHS 111 service.

Stay home

To protect our community, we ask that you stay at home if you're suffering from symptoms of Covid-19 or other respiratory illness (or any infectious condition). If your role can be carried out remotely and you feel well enough to work, then you can work from home. Otherwise, you should take sick leave, following the standard sickness absence reporting procedure. If you need support or other advice, please contact your line manager.

What if I'm vulnerable (or live with someone who is)?

We will support you with advice and recommendations for reasonable adjustments. Please contact the Occupational Health team to discuss your situation.

Managing the risk of Covid-19

Management of Covid risk should be covered in specific risk assessments where relevant, as we do with other infectious diseases. Please speak to your departmental Health and Safety lead if you need any advice on this approach; as a general rule, we would only expect Covid to need specific mention where there may be significant risks, so for example in clinical settings or where travel is planned to a country where substantial Covid measures are in place.

Face coverings

We recommend that people wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, especially when rates of transmission are high, in-line with general government guidance.


Mechanical ventilation should be used where it's installed. Opening external windows improves natural ventilation, and can also help to create a throughput of air. Where necessary, external opening doors may also be used (if they are not fire doors and where safe to do so). If you are concerned about the ventilation arrangements for your workspace, you should seek advice in the first instance from your line manager. You can also raise a concern using the Facilities Helpdesk, using the dropdown link for Ventilation not working.

The symptoms of flu (influenza) can include:

  • fever (38C or 100F or above)
  • tiredness or feeling weak
  • aches and pains
  • a cough or shortness of breath.

What should I do if I think I have flu?

Do I have meningitis?

Some symptoms of meningitis can be confused with flu-like symptoms. Although cases are very few, meningitis is potentially a very dangerous infection.

If you think you, or someone else, have any of the specific symptoms of meningitis, or the symptoms are rapidly becoming acute, seek medical advice immediately via your doctor, NHS 111 or York Hospital.

Meningitis symptoms, which may not all be present, include:

  • severe headache
  • dislike of bright light (photophobia)
  • neck stiffness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • confusion and drowsiness
  • loss of consciousness
  • convulsions/seizures
  • red/purple rash which does not fade on pressure, eg when viewed through a glass

What should I do if I think I have meningitis?

  • Seek medical advice from the NHS website.
  • Call your doctor or NHS 111 for advice if you're not sure if it's anything serious.
  • If you think you're seriously ill, call 999 for an ambulance or go to the York District Hospital Emergency Department.

Symptoms of measles include:

  • fever
  • irritability
  • cold or catarrh symptoms, including runny nose, sore throat and runny eyes
  • dry croupy cough
  • white Koplik's spots on the gums (on the second and third day)
  • diarrhoea

What should I do if I think I have measles?

  • Seek medical advice from the NHS website.
  • Contact your doctor - phone before your visit as measles is highly infectious.
  • Stay away from other people for five days from the onset of the rash.
  • Alert your line manager using the standard sickness absence reporting procedure.


Monkeypox infection usually starts with symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, chills or exhaustion. This is followed by a rash that starts as raised spots, which turn into small blisters. 

What should I do if I think I have Monkeypox?

If you have symptoms, you should self-isolate at home and avoid close contact with other people.

For medical advice, contact your doctor or use the NHS 111 service.

Government guidance on Monkeypox

Symptoms of mumps include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • swelling and tenderness of glands in one or both sides of the neck 
  • running nose and eyes, sore throat and ears

What should I do if I think I have mumps?

  • Seek medical advice from the NHS website.
  • Contact your doctor - phone before your visit as mumps is highly infectious.
  • Stay away from other people for at least five days after your symptoms first develop.
  • Alert your line manager using the standard sickness absence reporting procedure.

Symptoms of tuberculosis include:

  • fever and night sweats, coughing and weight loss for more than three weeks
  • coughing up blood in phlegm
  • enlarged lymph glands, commonly in the neck area

What should I do if I think I have tuberculosis?