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Health and Wellbeing

Definitions used in managing coronavirus risk in our halls

By Adrian 13 Oct 2020

Symptoms of COVID-19:

  • new, persistent cough;
  • high temperature (fever) ≥37.8C; and/or
  • loss of or change in sense of taste or smell.

A household is normally defined as a group of people who share bedroom, bathroom, or food preparation facilities.

A type 1 household in the intercollegiate halls is a clearly defined group of people in self-catered accommodation who share a kitchen; they may also share a bathroom. This type of accommodation is found at Garden Halls (Townhouses & HPT), Eleanor Rosa, House, and Handel Mansions.

In a type 1 household, if one person develops symptoms of COVID-19, the entire household must contact quarantine for 14 days or until the person with symptoms receives a negative test result.

People in a type 1 household can socialise normally with one another indoors and outdoors, without having to maintain 2m distance, and if the household is larger than six people, they are still allowed to gather socially, provided no one from outside the household joins the gathering. Within the halls, we ask that any type 1 household gatherings of more than six household members take place either inside the flat where the household is based, or outside the halls in a public space.

Local alert level 2 (high): from 17 October 2020 in London, members of a type 1 household are not allowed to socialise indoors with anyone who does not live in the same type 1 household.

A type 2 household in the intercollegiate halls is a less well-defined group of people in catered accommodation who are invited to attend dinner at the same time as one another – usually this is one floor or one wing of the building. The rooms in a type 2 household are typically arranged in a traditional halls of residence or hotel layout, with long corridors of bedrooms that open directly onto the corridor. In many cases, members of a type 2 household share a large multi-cubicle “institutional” bathroom; but these households do also include those with en suite rooms.

There is no requirement for everyone in the household to contact quarantine if someone develops symptoms of COVID-19. If a household member receives a positive test result for coronavirus, consideration will be given to quarantining the type 2 household following a case-by-case risk assessment; but in many cases, this will not be necessary.

People in a type 2 household can socialise indoors and outdoors in groups of up to six people. They should attempt, wherever possible, to maintain a distance of 2m from other people, or if 2m distancing is not possible, at least 1m plus other measures such as wearing a face covering (this applies whether or not they are members of the same type 2 household). In the intercollegiate halls, we will enforce the “rule of six” and the wearing of face coverings, but we will not take disciplinary action for failure to maintain distance.

Local alert level 2 (high): from 17 October 2020 in London, members of a type 2 household are not allowed to socialise indoors with anyone who does not live in the same type 2 household.

A type 3 household in the intercollegiate halls is a completely self-contained, self-catered flat where no facilities are shared with other residents. Sometimes this type of accommodation is occupied by couples or families. In a type 3 household, if one person develops symptoms of COVID-19, the entire flat must contact quarantine for 14 days or until the person with symptoms receives a negative test result.

Local alert level 2 (high): from 17 October 2020 in London, members of a type 3 household are not allowed to socialise indoors with anyone who does not live in the same flat, unless they have formed a support bubble.

A support bubble is a close support network between a household with only one adult in the home (a single-adult household) and one other household of any size. This is called making a ‘support bubble’. The people within a support bubble can think of themselves as being members of one household, so they can have close contact with one another as if they all lived together. Each household may form only one support bubble, and once a support bubble has been formed, its membership must not change.

  • In halls, members of a type 1 or type 2 household may not form a support bubble.
  • Single occupants of a type 3 household (e.g. a studio flat) may form a support bubble with any other household. However, this would not allow the resident to sign in external guests. This leave two options:
    • form a support bubble with another type 3 household in the same hall, and be able to socialise with that other type 3 household without restrictions; or
    • form a support bubble with a household from outside the hall, understanding that they could only socialise together away from the hall (either at the other household, or in a public place).

A close contact is a person who has been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus during the infectious period. The following would count as being in close contact:

  • being within 2 metres of a confirmed case for 15 minutes or more;
  • being within 1 metre of a confirmed case for 1 minute or more;
  • sharing a household with a confirmed case;
  • having sexual contact with a confirmed case;
  • travelling in a car or other small vehicle with a confirmed case (even on a short journey); or
  • being close to a confirmed case on an aeroplane.

A casual contact is a person who has been in the same indoor environment (e.g., a classroom, a waiting room) as a confirmed case for a period of time during the infectious period, but who does not meet the definition of a close contact.

The infectious period for COVID-19 is considered to begin 48 hours before symptom onset (or 48 hours before the positive test, if no symptoms) until 10 days after symptom onset (or 10 days after their positive test, if no symptoms).

A suspected case is a person who has one or more symptoms (temperature above 37.8 C, cough, or lost/altered sense of taste or smell).

A confirmed case is a person who has a positive laboratory virology test, whether or not they have symptoms.

An outbreak in a residential setting is two or more test-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among individuals associated with a specific setting with illness onset dates within 14 days.

Self-isolation is the withdrawal of a suspected or confirmed case from social contact. *

Quarantine is the withdrawal of an asymptomatic casual or close contact from social contact. *

Shielding is the withdrawal from social contact of a person at increased risk from coronavirus (e.g. due to long-term health conditions).

* The government uses the term “self-isolation” to refer to both self-isolation and quarantine. We have retained the use of the word “quarantine” in the University because those who are self-isolating with symptoms or a positive test result need to follow different guidance from people who have been a contact of a confirmed or suspected case. The University is not alone in retaining the distinction: the World Health Organization, and most other countries, differentiate between self-isolation and quarantine. So most of our international students will appreciate the difference between isolation and quarantine.
Adrian profile picture

Adrian is a medical doctor, the University of London Student Health & Wellbeing Manager, and the Warden of Connaught Hall. He is passionate about advancing equality, diversity, and inclusion. Adrian's interests include fitness, nutrition, mindfulness and insight meditation, medical education, social psychology, and human factors / crisis resource management.
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