It is with great sadness that I can confirm the news you may have already heard, which is that a fellow student has died on the way home from your ILoveTour trip to Italy. The family has been informed and our thoughts are with them and close friends at this difficult time.
The cause of the death is currently unexplained and we are working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the tour operator and Public Health England to understand the full circumstances and to get the best advice to you as quickly as possible. While the cause has not been confirmed, doctors in Italy suspect it might be due to meningitis. I need to stress that is only suspected at this stage.
As you will be aware, we have been working closely with the Student Union to make sure that you have all had the latest information as soon as it's been available from our partners at Public Health England. Their advice this evening is that meningococcal bacteria are carried in about one in ten people and only very rarely cause illness. Most people who carry the bacteria become immune to them, they do not spread easily and only those who have had prolonged, close contact with the person are at a slightly greater risk of becoming ill.
Therefore the advice is to continue your journeys back to the UK and help and advice will be ready for you when you return to campus.
However, as a precaution, all those in close contact with the student are being advised to receive antibiotic prophylaxis as soon as possible. Please check the signs and symptoms card attached and seek urgent medical help if you have these symptoms.
People who have not had prolonged, close contact, i.e. classmates, friends, social acquaintances, etc, are NOT at any greater risk than the rest of the population and do not need antibiotics. Those who have shared drinks with the student but have not had prolonged close contact also have no increased risks. Please look after each other and do seek medical assistance if you need to.
I know this will be difficult news to receive, so if If you, or someone you know, requires support in light of this news, please contact the University's Centre for Wellbeing on campus by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org,calling 01483 689498, or visiting the Centre.
Trained staff will be available Monday to Friday, 9.30am – 4.30pm, for anyone in need of support or who would like to talk to someone confidentially.
Out-of-hours support is also available from the Samaritans - a confidential listening service for anyone in distress needing to talk. They can be reached 24 hours a day on 08457 9009090, online or via email.
We would respectfully ask that should you receive any approaches from the media, you direct them to our Media Relations Team - email@example.com or 07773 479911.
If you need to speak to anyone at the university overnight please contact security on 01483 863333.
Professor Jane Powell
Vice-Provost Education and Students at the University of Surrey