2 June 2020

Information on the coronavirus (COVID-19)

Update #41, 2 June 2020

In this update, we inform you about the testing possibilities if you experience corona-like symptoms in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium and about the UM protocol that comes into effect if an infection with COVID-19 is detected during that test. In addition, we point you to a new video conferencing service that is suitable for discussing highly sensitive data (Surf Videobellen). This update also contains more information about the measures taken by the municipality in the city centre for pedestrians and cyclists as well as a link to a 'heartwarming' new article in the series We’re open!

What to do if you have corona-like symptoms? Get tested! 

As of 1 June, anyone living in the Netherlands with (mild) corona-like symptoms* can be tested (free of charge!) for COVID-19 by the GGD. This can be done without a referral from a company doctor or general practitioner; you can judge for yourself whether a test is necessary. You can make an appointment for a test in your own region by calling the (national) hotline 0800-1202. There are two testing locations in Limburg: in the parking lot next to the Van der Valk hotel in Urmond and on the Nijmeegseweg in Venlo (students who have problems getting to one of these testing locations can contact their study advisor). The results of the test will follow within 24 hours. Cross-border workers living in Germany can be tested by their own GP if they experience corona-like symptoms. Cross-border workers living in Belgium can, with a referral from their GP, be tested at a local triage centre in their region.

GGD carries out source and contact tracing 
If there is a positive result, the GGD will carry out source and contact tracing. Within 24 hours after a ‘positive’ result, the contact tracing will focus on identifying all of the patient’s contacts. The next step is that the GGD will inform these contacts as soon as possible about their recent contact with the patient who tested positive, give them specific advice and possibly impose measures (depending on the type of contact: e.g. roommates have to be quarantined).  

Not only roommates and other close contacts are informed by the GGD, but also staff and students who spent more than 15 minutes in the same office, meeting room or classroom with the patient at a distance of more than 1.5 metres.

Collaboration across borders
For UM, this means that employees and students can be confident that they will be informed by the GGD as soon as possible if they have been at risk of being infected at UM, even if this is related to a colleague or student who tested positive and lives in Germany or Belgium, for example. The counterpart of the GGD in those countries will report to the GGD the name of any employee/student who tests positive for COVID-19, so that the GGD can contact this person to start the contact tracing for contacts that took place in the Netherlands.

The entire contact tracing process is carried out by the GGD, including informing employees and fellow students with whom a recent contact took place. The employer/educational institution is not informed about this.

Do I have to inform UM about a positive result?
Employees or students who are required by the GGD to remain in compulsory quarantine for 14 days (if they themselves, a housemate or another close contact tests positive) in principle only have to report their absence to their manager or teacher if they are expected to be present at UM during the quarantine period.

Employees who are unable to work from home due to illness should report their illness to their manager in accordance with UM's normal sick leave procedure.

For students who experience difficulties and/or a possible study delay because they or someone in their immediate environment is infected by the coronavirus/COVID-19, they should discuss this with their study adviser as soon as possible; see link https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/support/during-your-studies/student-guidance/study-advisers.

To whom can you report your results?
Reporting a positive COVID-19 test result to UM is not obligatory! However, in the interest of monitoring a safe working environment at UM, reporting this to a supervisor or study adviser is appreciated. After obtaining permission from the employee or student, they will report this to the head of UM's Occupational Health Care office via corona[at]maastrichtuniversity[dot]nl, leaving out the employee or student’s name but stating the department/study programme that he or she is part of.   

Employees or students who test positive are only allowed to return to UM after a period of at least 7 days after the symptoms start and at least 24 hours after the symptoms stop.

For more information about the source and contact tracing of the GGD, see the UM Protocol regarding COVID-19 infections.

Video conferencing for high-risk data processing

Following the outbreak of the coronavirus, UM introduced two video conferencing services: Zoom and LifeSize. Both are suitable for processing data with a ‘medium’ risk classification. For research purposes, this is often not enough since the research deals with high-risk data processing, e.g. interviews with research participants. Therefore, UM is introducing a third video conferencing service that is suitable for these high-risk purposes: Surf Videobellen. If recording of the video is necessary, local recording of the conversation and storage on UM servers are added to this. Here you can find more information about using Surf Videobellen.

Safely navigating the city. This is how we do it!

When people gather together in groups, the coronavirus can quickly spread. That's why the Municipality of Maastricht has taken extra steps for pedestrians and cyclists to prevent any potentially unsafe situations from happening. More information can be found on the website of Maastricht Bereikbaar.

We’re open!: Hearttalks for terminal patients and their families

Damiën Nunes, innovation coach/trainer and service designer at UMIO and the Service Science Factory, came up with the concept for Hearttalks: family members of coronavirus patients can send verbal messages from a distance, while intimately listening to the sound of the beating heart of (terminal) patients who are unable or struggling to speak. Read the whole story in the UM series We’re open!