NOVA University Lisbon begins conducting serological tests on the academic community
NOVA University Lisbon will start conducting serological tests on the academic community. Professors, researchers, employees, and students who attend face-to-face classes will be tested, as well as all those who are in university residences. The tests, free of charge and voluntary, will be carried out in all the schools and institutes of NOVA, as well as in the Rectorate.
After blood collection, the samples will be subsequently analyzed at NOVA Medical School (NMS). This is yet another initiative that NOVA develops to guarantee the best health and safety conditions, considering the current and next academic year (2020-21).
These serological tests were designed within the scope of the Serology4COVID Consortium, which brings together the Center for the Study of Chronic Diseases of NMS | FCM (CEDOC), the Institute of Chemical and Biological Technology (ITQB NOVA), the Institute of Experimental and Technological Biology (iBET), the Gulbenkian Institute Science (IGC) and the Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM).
The consortium's objective is to design serological tests that will reconstruct the past and identify who has been infected with the new coronavirus and may have gained immunity. In this way, it is possible to have a more realistic and complete picture of what happened in the country, so that new strategies can be implemented to control the spread of the disease and minimize its consequences for health, society and the economy.
Dear members of NOVA Community,
With the establishment of a state of emergency in Portugal on March 18, 2020, the Government enacted a decree of law that defines a set of measures that came into force on March 22, 2020, and which aim to contain the transmission of the new coronavirus and the spread of the COVID-19 disease.
Thus, in accordance with the Government's guidelines, seeking to guarantee the regular functioning of the institution and respecting all public health norms, NOVA University Lisbon determines that, as of March 23, 2020:
1. Distance work or teleworking is now applied to all NOVA workers, with the exception of those situations in which it is imperative to continue to ensure on-site work;
2. The following services are considered essential services that will require physical presence of workers at NOVA facilities:
a) Technological, medical and biological activities associated with scientific research, including laboratories. It is up to the Deans of NOVA Schools to determine the essential services that will have to continue to be guaranteed;
b) Services provided in canteens and student residences, which must be ensured through the enforcement of a rotation regime of workers assigned to this activity;
c) Maintenance, cleaning and surveillance services for buildings and outdoor/green spaces;
d) Minimum administrative, technical and financial services necessary for the functioning of the University in the current context.
3. Any worker who needs to physically access one of NOVA's facilities, for the purpose of ensuring essential services or providing support to those services, should complete a declaration (see Rectoral Order) that must be authorized by the Rector or by the Dean of the respective NOVA School, as applicable.
The measures that I am hereby sharing with all of you can be checked in more detail in the Rectoral Order Nº122/2020 (in Portuguese), whereas it is up to the Deans of NOVA Schools, by my entrustment, to specify the implementation of some of these measures. NOVA will keep on updating the information, whenever necessary, through its website (www.unl.pt).
I continue to personally follow, on a permanent basis, the evolution of this situation, together with the Deans of NOVA Schools, and monitoring the regular functioning of NOVA's activity.
In view of the current context facing the country and the world, without parallel, the measures implemented are aimed at protecting the safety and health of our community. I would also like to remind that it is in the hands of each of us to adopt responsible measures and behaviours, following the recommendations of the health authorities. Only that way can we prevent the spread of this pandemic.
You can count on me to overcome, together, the personal, family and institutional difficulties that we are facing.
Rector of NOVA University Lisbon
Dear members of the NOVA community,
As is well known, the Portuguese Government announced on March 12 new recommendations in the fight against COVID-19, which imply the suspension of classroom activities starting next Monday, March 16, and until April 9, when a reassessment of the situation will then be carried out. This measure had already been implemented and communicated by NOVA University Lisbon on March 11, when we decided to replace traditional classroom activities with teaching solutions delivered through digital platforms. In addition, we chose to close libraries and study rooms, as well as to promote, whenever possible, teleworking, with the purpose of guaranteeing the safety of all and the best functioning of the institution under these adverse conditions. The students living at NOVA students residences were advised to leave them only if they can do so in the best conditions of safety and public health, namely with regard to their return destination.
On March 13, we closed the facilities of Nova SBE at the Carcavelos Campus, as well as of NOVA IMS and Colégio Almada Negreiros, at the Campolide Campus, in Lisbon, due to the confirmation of two positive results to the COVID-19 test. We did this in compliance with the recommendations of the health authorities.
In the face of such a serious public health issue, we must maintain our trust in these authorities, whose guidelines are based on technical and scientific information. As such, and because we are facing a very dynamic process, NOVA will regularly update information through its website (www.unl.pt), adapting the necessary response measures to fight the pandemic. More detailed information on the ongoing adaptation process is provided by the schools themselves (also available on their own websites).
I am personally monitoring, on a permanent basis, the evolution of the situation, together with the deans of the Organic Units. Our priority is to ensure the safety of the entire NOVA community.
I am sure that together we will be able to overcome in the best way possible the personal, family and institutional difficulties that we are facing right now.
Very best wishes,
Rector of NOVA University Lisbon
Member of the NOVA IMS student community with a positive result in the COVID-19 test - School is closed
NOVA Information Management School (NOVA IMS) has been informed today, March 13, 2020, of a positive result to the COVID-19 test by one of the members of the student community. It is a student of Portuguese nationality, who, after a period of vacation abroad, returned to Portugal at the end of February, coming from a country not yet referenced as an active virus transmission area. This member of the student community is quarantined.
The Contingency Plan of the NOVA University Lisbon to combat COVID-19 was immediately triggered. In accordance with this Plan and with the guidelines of the health authorities, the NOVA IMS facilities and Colégio Almada Negreiros, at the Campolide Campus, in Lisbon, were closed. The subsequent contingency measures that are to be determined by the competent authorities are awaited.
People who had close contact and who lived in the school environment with that member of the student community of NOVA IMS were identified, and contacted immediately to take the containment measures provided by the health authorities.
All community members have already been duly informed via email of this situation and the closure of the facilities. They were asked not to visit the NOVA IMS facilities or the Colégio Almada Negreiros, at the Campolide Campus, in Lisbon, and to wait for new information.
NOVA IMS teaching activities continue to operate in the form of distance learning from next Monday, March 16, 2020, as had already been decided by NOVA University Lisbon on March 11 and which was yesterday, March 12, recommended by the Portuguese Government.
NOVA University Lisbon and NOVA IMS urge, in this difficult and uncertain period, all members of their diverse communities to respect each other by the standards recommended by health authorities and by those contained in NOVA's Contingency Plan to combat COVID -19, asking that they continue to comply with these recommendations, namely the more restrictive rules presented by the Council of Ministers last night.
Member of Nova SBE student community tested positive for COVID-19 - School facilities closed
This night, Nova SBE has learned of the existence of a positive test result for the COVID-19 of a member of the student community . A student, of Portuguese nationality, who, after a period of vacation abroad, returned to Portugal earlier this month, coming from a country not yet referenced as an area of active transmission of the virus. This member of the student community is, so far, asymptomatic and quarantined.
The Contingency Plan of the NOVA University Lisbon to combat COVID-19 was immediately activated. Under this Plan, and in accordance with the guidelines of the health authorities, the facilities of the entire Carcavelos Campus were closed overnight and will not open today. The subsequent contingency measures that are to be determined by the competent authorities are awaited.
People who had close contact and who lived in the school environment with that member of the student community of Nova SBE are being identified, and are being contacted immediately to take the containment measures provided by the health authorities.
All members of the community have already been duly informed via email of this situation and the closure of the Campus. They were asked not to travel to the Campus and to wait for new information, which will be provided during today. The teaching activities of Nova SBE continue to operate in the form of distance learning, as it had already been adopted by the NOVA University Lisbon since 11 March and which was yesterday, 12 March, recommended by the Portuguese Government.
NOVA University Lisbon and Nova SBE urge, in this difficult and uncertain period, all members of their diverse communities to respect each other by the standards recommended by the health authorities and by those contained in the NOVA Contingency Plan to combat COVID -19, asking that they continue to comply with these recommendations, namely the more restrictive rules presented by the Council of Ministers this evening.
On the day that the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the NOVA University Lisbon decided, starting next Monday, March 16, 2020, to suspend all face-to-face classes that have not yet been replaced by teaching through digital platforms, closing libraries and study rooms as well.
More detailed information about the ongoing adaptation process will be provided by the schools.
In the absence of any new development, the situation will be reassessed by the University on April 13, 2020. NOVA is constantly monitoring and with the utmost attention the evolution of the pandemic. The decision aims to reduce the risk of contagion and safeguard the safety of the NOVA community, being taken in line with the recommendations of the health authorities, who are responsible for deciding which measures to implement at any given moment.
Attentive and vigilant as the situation in the country evolves, NOVA will regularly update the information, adapting the response measures necessary to combat the pandemic.
NOVA's main concern is the safety of its academic community.
NOVA University Lisbon maintains contingency measures
NOVA University Lisbon, after the meeting of Conselho de Reitores das Universidades Portuguesas - CRUP (Council of Rectors of Portuguese Universities), which took place on March 10, 2020, and following the recommendations of health authorities, who are responsible for the decision to suspend activities and or close common use spaces, decided to maintain the contingency measures to combat COVID-19 implemented on March 9, 2020.
By maintaining the contingency measures, NOVA is following the guidelines of the health authorities, awaiting any new indication that may result from the meeting between the Government and the National Council for Public Health, scheduled for tomorrow, March 11, 2020.
NOVA is constantly monitoring the epidemic's evolution with the utmost attention. Without alarmism, the individual contribution, in compliance with the recommendations and preventive measures, is essential to obtain the desired results and to overcome this community challenge.
NOVA's main concern is the safety of its Academic Community, which is why it is essential to minimize the risk of contagion. NOVA recalls the contingency measures implemented and followed by all its schools, which, of course, are adjusted to the evolution of the situation and to the specificities of each one, seeking to ensure, as far as possible, the activity of the University:
1. Maintain the measures of the Contingency Plan previously approved for NOVA;
2. Reinforce all prophylactic measures in relation to COVID 19: avoidance of contact, frequent washing of hands and surfaces;
3. Suspend public scientific meetings at NOVA with more than 50 people and with participants from abroad;
4. Suspend any non-scientific public events within the perimeter of the University;
5. Suspend the practical clinical teaching of Medicine that takes students to hospitals;
6. Start replacing classes (theoretical and practical), whenever possible, with e-learning content;
7. Minimize trips abroad, which, if they occurred to areas considered at risk, imply a 14-day social quarantine;
8. Maintain, for now, the work in the Laboratories, using and scrupulously reinforcing the prophylaxis measures explicit in the Contingency Plan;
9. Reduce the support staff present at the University and the schools, promoting work from home;
10. Eliminate biometric control;
11. Reduce the frequency of people in canteens and homes to the minimum possible, appealing to students to do so.
Properly articulated with the health authorities, NOVA is attentive and vigilant when the situation in the country evolves, assessing the risks at each moment, regularly updating the information and adapting the necessary response measures.
Elevation of Contingency Measures to superior level
The University's primary concern is the safety of its Academic Community, saving the academic year. It collaborates, simultaneously, with the Health Authorities, in the control of the COVID-19 epidemic .
It is determined to:
1. Maintain the measures in the Contingency Plan previously approved for NOVA;
2. Reinforce all prophylactic measures in relation to COVID 19 - avoidance of contact, frequent washing of hands and surfaces;
3. Suspend, whenever possible, public scientific meetings at NOVA. Meetings with a large number of participants (> 50) and participants from abroad must be absolutely supressed;
4. Suspend any non-scientific public events within the perimeter of the University;
5. In Medicine, to suspend practical clinical teaching entirely, which takes students to hospitals;
6. Start replacing classes (theoretical and practical), whenever possible, with e-learning content, rationalizing and limiting its use;
7. To replace, gradually, the classes by works, scheduled study, etc;
8. Trips abroad must be minimized and, if they occur to risk areas (Contingency Plan), they imply a social quarantine of 14 days;
9. Maintain, for now, the work in the Laboratories, using and scrupulously reinforcing the prophylaxis measures specified in the Contingency Plan;
10. Minimize the support staff present at the University and OUs - promoting work from home and minimizing their local presence - Norms to be established by Management;
11. Eliminate biometric control;
12. Canteens and Social Action - reduce the frequency in Canteens and residences to the minimum possible, appealing to students for this process. Implement all prophylaxis measures there;
13. Use all common sense, in order to assess risks at every moment, and keep all attention regarding the evolution of the situation, which is very volatile. NOVA will update the information in due course and adapt the measures, which may come to scale;
14. The organic units must implement the necessary concrete measures.
Questions and Answers
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a type of virus known for causing disease in humans and are common across the world. COVID-19 is a disease causes by a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City (China) in December 2019.
The incubation period of COVID-19 is between 2 and 14 days. This means that if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, it is unlikely that they have been infected.
The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:
Generally, these infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune system, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
How is COVID-19 spread?
From what we know about other coronaviruses, spread of COVID-19 is most likely to happen when there is close contact (within 2 metres) with an infected person. It is likely that the risk increases the longer someone has close contact with an infected person.
Droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes (termed respiratory secretions) containing the virus are most likely to be the most important means of transmission.
There are two routes by which people could become infected:
How can I prevent the spread of infection?
here is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
There are general principles anyone can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
Face masks for the general public, students or staff are not recommended to protect from infection, as there is no evidence of benefit from their use outside healthcare environments.
I recently traveled abroad. What should I do?
NOVA takes into consideration the guidelines of the Portuguese Directorate-General for Health (Direção-Geral de Saúde - SNS) and the World Health Organization on COVID-19. According to the University's Contingency Plan, all students and staff returning from an area with active community transmission of the new coronavirus, including:
must respect, as a precautionary principle of Public Health, a home prophylactic isolation period of 14 days after their return, during which they will monitor the emergence of any symptoms.
All people in these circumstances, during that period, have to:
What to do if students or staff become unwell and believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 (either through travel to a specified country/area or contact with a confirmed case)?
All students and staff who experience cough, fever or difficulty in breathing should be instructed to report their health status to the designated focal point in their institution.
If a potentially suspect case of COVID-19 is identified among students or staff, he/she should not go directly to a health care setting. Instead, the following actions should be taken:
Dear members of NOVA Community,
Given the end of the State of Emergency determined by the President of the Portuguese Republic, NOVA University Lisbon will proceed to the phased and safe lifting of the restrictions that come from it.
NOVA, which never stopped in times of emergency, will say, again, “present!”.
Since the beginning of the pandemic crisis, I have been (tele)meeting several times with the Deans of NOVA Schools, with the Social Welfare Services and with the Student Associations in order to assess the needs, concerns and challenges that we all face. During this time, we have prepared status reports, twice a month, which have now guided us in identifying the main areas and activities that should be subject to the lifting of containment measures in order to ensure the success of this 2nd academic semester.
Given the autonomy of NOVA Schools, as well as their heterogeneity and multidisciplinarity, it is up to their own governing bodies, starting with the Deans, to design, apply and communicate the concrete measures to return to face-to-face activities, in any of their areas of activity. These measures must comply with “ NOVA’s General Plan for phased-in reactivation of face-to-face activities ”, which was subject to a Ministerial Order also published today.
The Plan is very detailed and must be read carefully. It prescribes, for example, the mandatory use of masks - which will be provided by NOVA, free of charge, until the end of the semester -, mandatory social distance in all face-to-face situations, and distance learning and teleworking as preferred options, whenever possible.
This Plan will be in effect from May 4 to August 31, and will be permanently evaluated. To this end, I have created a monitoring committee, which I will coordinate, in order to monitor this process of gradual opening and to review our policies, whenever necessary, ensuring that new rules defined by the authorities are adopted, as the pandemic evolves.
I am sure that in this comeback, we will know how to deal with and overcome our three main enemies: fear, discouragement and lack of caution. Mutual help, a sense of public service and our own individual determination are, more than ever, essential.
Always focused on the mission to serve society through knowledge, NOVA University Lisbon will open the necessary face-to-face activities to the maximum, compromising everyone's safety to a minimum.
I wish you all the best,
Rector of NOVA University Lisbon