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How European medical schools are tackling the COVID-19 pandemic

All the news about Corona Virus right now can be daunting. Particularly for students that study medicine in Europe who may be finding it difficult to find the right information to understand what will happen to their education/academic semesters.

Current Situation in Eastern European Countries

On the 13th of March, the Bulgarian authorities declared a “State of Emergency” in Bulgaria and introduced several measures in response to the pandemic. With many schools and universities closing, sending students home, or offering online-only lessons.

The first two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by the Bulgarian authorities on the 8th of March 2020, a 27-year-old man from Pleven and a 75-year-old woman from Gabrovo. The man is thought to have been in contact with Italian students but tested positive after being hospitalized for a respiratory infection. It is unknown how the woman contracted the virus, but authorities planned to test other individuals who were in contact with the two.

“On the basis of the Orders of the Minister of Health dated March 8th, 2020 and due to the evidence of the first cases of COVID-19 in the town of Pleven and Bulgaria the classes at Medical University – Pleven are stopped till March 14. The students are not allowed to leave their homes and visit any public places in the city such as cinemas, theatres, concert halls, fitness centers, restaurants and discos and other places with many people in closed spaces.”

Necessary measures have been put in place and have been quickly implemented as the number of cases rapidly rises in Bulgaria from 2 cases to 81 as of the 17th of March 2020. Although Eastern Europe is in the early stages, it is anticipated that things will get worse before they get better.

In Romania, universities such as G T Popa University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Iasi has also decided to shut down until the end of March and provide online lessons in the meantime. This measure may be prolonged depending on how the situation progresses in Romania.

Similar measures have also been taken in Latvia at our partner university Riga Stradins University. On 12 March the Latvian Crisis Management Council decided to suspend in-person teaching at all educational institutions. From 13 March to 14 April all education will be conducted only remotely.

What Does This Mean For Students Currently Studying Abroad?

“Unprecedented situations” called so by Prof. Dr. Slavcho Tomov of Pleven Medical University. He goes onto say “A micro-organism tested the world, Bulgaria and our alma mater. Emergency situation means creating new rules – order of self-discipline, of selflessness, of courage, but also of humility, of patience and humanity. I am convinced that united we will manage because we all strongly believe, hope, love and work for a common cause!”

It is not known how long this extraordinary pandemic will last, not just for European Medical schools but for the world. A State of emergency in Bulgaria has not been declared since the second world war.

A temporary ban has been placed on citizens of countries such as the UK where the virus is widespread. Only those who hold a long term residency card will be allowed entry at the moment. All students who will be returning for countries at high risk including the UK will also be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Nonetheless, despite this education must go on lecturers/professors who have already begun posting work online so that students who are self-isolating but well enough, can undertake the work. The primary mediums used by universities to do this are online portals, to access this student will need to log in using their specific codes/logins they would have been given by their universities.

What Does This Mean For Students Applying For Oct 2020 Entry?

Currently, there is little information available regarding how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect the admissions cycle for entry in October 2020. 

Although there are no delays announced in the timeline as of yet, we do know that universities are planning on conducting the entrance exams online rather than at the university campus or in London.

Those that were due to sit their A-level exams this year should not worry since the government has announced that they will receive the qualifications regardless of the summer exam session being canceled this year. 

Since Bulgarian medical schools such as Plovdiv Medical University only require a pass in the A-level chemistry and biology, the majority of students will still be eligible to sit the entrance exam.

Please contact our dedicated admissions team for more information about how the outbreak will affect admissions this year and the help we can provide to overcome the obstacles you may face whilst applying to study medicine or dentistry abroad this year.

It is best to apply as soon as possible considering spaces this year due to the outbreak. We advise you to contact us as soon as possible to secure your chances of obtaining a place this year!

How Can I Protect Myself From The Disease?

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water more often than usual. Remember to wash them for 20 seconds to ensure its effectiveness. Wash your hands as soon as you get home from the outdoors or when you get into work. Use hand sanitizer if water and soap are not available.
  2. Make sure to use a tissue when you are coughing or sneezing that you can dispose of straight away and wash your hands afterward. Remember, catch it, bin it, kill it! Alternatively, use your elbow or sleeve to cover it to avoid using your hands.
  3. Try and stay at home as much as possible. Social distancing limits the exposure you receive to somebody that can transmit the virus onto you. Work from home if you can and avoid social activities such as going to pubs, restaurants, cinemas, and events.
  4. Your eyes, nose, and mouth are entry points into your body. Avoid touching them to stop the risk of taking in the virus through these cavities.

Time from exposure to onset of symptoms is generally between 2 and 14 days, with an average of 5 days.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you’ll need to stay at home for 7 days. If you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms.

DO NOT go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Call 111 to seek advice on what to do if you are in the UK or call 112 if you are in Europe.

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