Corona measures TU/e more lenient than in Delft

“An appeal to everyone with any respiratory symptoms to stay at home - even if they have not visited the risk areas - would be, in our opinion, a disproportional response at this stage.” So says Ivo Jongsma, board spokesperson at TU/e. In response to concerns about coronavirus, TU Delft is asking students and employees to stay at home as soon as they feel unwell, even if they have not recently visited Italy or China. For the time being, events at TU/e are going ahead as planned and the board is adhering to the guidelines issued by RIVM.

photo Shutterstock - Orawan Pattarawimonchai

Delft University of Technology is taking this extra step beyond measures recommended by the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the municipal health services (GGD) after one of its students returned from northern Italy infected by the virus, reports campus paper Delta. The university wants employees to take no risks.

The 23-year-old student, who is currently at home and doing reasonably well, acted quickly. The municipal health service is now testing the dozen or so people with whom she had contact. TU Delft is asking students and employees not to shake hands, in addition to the general hygiene recommendations to wash hands frequently, cough or sneeze into your elbow and use paper tissues.

At the time of writing, eighteen corona cases have been reported in the Netherlands. In Tilburg, where there are two patients, the university has taken slightly less rigorous measures. University employees have been told to stay at home only if they have symptoms and visited one of the risk areas.


Board spokesperson Ivo Jongsma reports that for the time being TU/e is not considering any far-reaching measures such as those taken in Delft. “All the universities, ourselves included, have made national agreements. ATU/e appeal to everyone with any respiratory symptoms to stay at home would be, in our opinion, a disproportional response at this stage. We are adhering to the guidelines issued by RIVM. The situation in Delft is different. The infection of a student there has created a higher level of public concern. We can always take additional measures later on, if that becomes necessary.”

As early as January 31st it was announced at TU/e that no travel permits to China would be issued by the university for the time being, and last week this restriction was extended to other areas with a negative travel advice due to the virus. TU/e is also taking RIVM's advice regarding events. Jongsma says, “For the time being, events are going ahead. Our advice to event organizers is that in view of the changing situation they should keep a close eye on the latest RIVM advice.”

Enquiries made to the Student Sports Centre (SSC) reveal that no major sports events are currently planned. Peter Geurts, a member of the SCC staff, tells Cursor that most international tournaments are held in May. “Yesterday some two hundred people took part in a badminton tournament, but most of the participants came from the Netherlands, Belgium or Germany. An international korfball tournament is scheduled for April. We will be keeping a close eye on developments.”

Peter Engels, who works at Internal Affairs, tells us that TU/e has no large conferences planned. “I have heard only of a Spaniard who is due to come over for a PhD conferral ceremony here; he's a member of the doctoral committee. This individual is deciding whether to stay at home due to the virus.”

Special team

Since early January, TU/e has had a special team dedicated to coronavirus. Its members include a departmental director, the directors of ESA, DPO and CEC, the university secretary, a safety coordinator and a spokesperson. This team is monitoring the situation closely and initiating the necessary corona-related action at TU/e, including the necessary communication. Among the channels used by the team is

The team members are in close contact with outside agencies, including the GGD, RIVM and representatives of colleague universities. If your questions are not answered by the Q&A on the TU/e website, you can ask questions via Whatsapp (+31 641683406) or email: (please state the subject as COVID-19).


A fruitless trip to Denver

Kees Storm, Professor of Soft Matter at Applied Physics, is currently in Denver. Here, at eight p.m. on Saturday evening, while in his hotel room, he learned that the meeting of the American Physical Society, the most important event in the physics calendar, says Storm, had been canceled due to coronavirus. “Yes, extraordinarily late, by that time many of the scientists keen to attend this meeting - normally that would be about ten thousand - were already in Denver. The first events were scheduled for Sunday. Incidentally, by that time many participants had already changed their minds and said that they would not be attending after all, among them participants from China.”

Storm was disappointed by the late cancelation but pleasantly surprised by the inventiveness of the organizers of the part of the program for which he had travelled to the US. “That same evening a digital framework was in place giving participants who were due to present a lecture later in the week the chance to do so online. This arrangement relies on Zoom, a webinar platform. I'll be giving my own lecture via Zoom on Tuesday at 11 o'clock. Afterwards I'll be available to answer questions online.”

The first opportunity to fly back to the Netherlands was not until Wednesday, explains Storm, who was actually due to spend the whole week in Denver. “In the meantime I'm filling my days with meetings and discussions with colleagues. So it's certainly not been a waste of time.”

As for his expenses, he has already been in touch with the departmental board; he had paid for his trip out of his own pocket in anticipation of being reimbursed. “I've been advised that the cancelation will have no effect on this arrangement. The APS will refund the registration fee and says it is considering whether to refund accommodation expenses as well. Whether that will happen, I don't know, but they certainly won't reimburse my travel expenses.”

Storm will soon be flying again, this time to Lyon for a conference. “As long as the countries concerned are none for which RIVM has issued a negative travel advice, you should just go.” Nonetheless, this incident has set him thinking about the necessity of traveling to every conference. “But often face-to-face contact met colleagues in the field is the most fruitful contact, and for talented young academics a meeting like this also offers the chance to be seen.”


Share this article