Dear University Citizens,

Regarding the international epidemiological situation caused by the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), please find below once again the most important information.

Tests have confirmed that an international pharmacy student of Semmelweis University has been infected by the coronavirus. As a result, the university’s rector has made the decision that the 16 members of the fourth-year English-language pharmacy class will be provided with all the materials necessary for their studies, so that they can study remotely and online from home for as long as it is necessary. During this time, the affected students cannot participate in lectures and practices.

Furthermore, I am announcing the following procedures:

If you develop symptoms of sudden acute respiratory tract infection (fever, cough, shortness of breath), you are only suspected of having a coronavirus infection if you have been in close contact with a coronavirus patient within 14 days or have been to an area within 14 days before the symptoms appeared where the spread of the coronavirus is assumed or confirmed.

The areas most affected by the assumed spread of the infection are primarily China, South Korea, Iran and some provinces in Italy. Please visit the following websites for more information:

If, based on the above, you have a strong suspicion of a coronavirus infection, we request that you stay at home and call your GP or the emergency medical service in your area immediately and follow the instructions of the doctor, who will take action.

If you develop acute respiratory symptoms but none of the above conditions apply to you, you are not suspected of having a coronavirus infection. In this case, we advise you to stay at home until the symptoms improve.

We also advise you not to travel to a country that is affected by the spread of the infection and, if possible, not to receive visitors from those countries until the new coronavirus epidemic subsides. If you are unable to postpone or cancel your planned trip, we request that you voluntarily stay away from the university for 14 days after returning to Hungary.

The university will make sure to provide you with appropriate study material in the form of distance learning. Please inform the Dean’s Office in such a case, so that your absence can be confirmed. If you develop acute respiratory symptoms during these 14 days, stay at home, call your GP or the emergency medical service in your area immediately and follow your doctor’s instructions.

The behaviour of the SARS-CoV-2 is similar to that of the influenza, but there is still only limited experience. It spreads through a drip infection and can usually cause symptoms after a few days of incubation. In most cases, the course of the disease and the symptoms are not severe. At present, it is believed that it is most dangerous for the elderly and for those who are already suffering from a major illness (e.g. transplanted, immunosuppressed, receiving chemotherapy). Unlike for influenza, there is no vaccine or medicine yet for the new coronavirus. Regardless, we must behave essentially like in the case of a flu epidemic, which is also occurring at the moment. This means following simple preventive and protective measures:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with warm water and soap.
  2. Apply hand disinfectant.
  3. Limit greetings involving physical contact (handshakes, kisses, etc.) during the flu epidemic.
  4. Do not rub your eyes or touch your face.
  5. Use a tissue if you cough or sneeze. Follow cough etiquette. Dispose of the used handkerchief into a rubbish bin.
  6. Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces (computer keyboards, door handles, etc.).
  7. Ventilate, air premises as often as possible.
  8. Avoid crowds as much as possible during transport and leisure.

Please be advised that hand disinfection facilities are provided at Semmelweis University’s common areas, and we will keep you informed of changes in the epidemiological situation.

Procedures and recommendations relating to the official trips of university citizens and university events:

  • Business, official, conference trips: the university does not support or approve travel to the areas most affected by the assumed spread of the infection, which are primarily China, South Korea, Iran and some provinces in Italy. Please visit the following websites for more information and up-to-date data:
  • Trips to currently non-risky areas that can be postponed are not recommended either. Whether an official trip can be postponed or not is the decision of the university’s leadership (Rector, Dean, Clinical Centre).
  • The organization of university events for hundreds of people are not recommended. Such events need to be approved by the top leadership of the university, and government and health authority regulations must be adhered to.
  • In general, the cancellation of events for the public is not recommended, but approval of the top leadership is required to hold such events, following due precautions during their planning.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, you can also contact the Department of Hospital Hygiene at

The above information and action plan is based on the current situation, which the leadership of the University may overrule and update to fit the prevailing situation as required.

Please be sure to closely follow our information notices, which will provide continuous and up-to-date information on the actions to be taken.

Budapest, 5 March 2020


Prof. Dr. Béla Merkely