TWO faculty members of the University of the Philippines (UP) are under investigation for a possible novel coronavirus infection, the school said in a statement on Wednesday.

The two teachers had submitted themselves for testing after attending an academic conference in Japan, and were isolated, UP said.

“The UP Diliman Health Service declared the two as persons under investigation after showing fever and respiratory symptoms,” it said.

Protocols had been followed in isolating the patients and disinfecting the premises and the ambulance used to carry them to a referral hospital, it added.

The UP administration met with experts from the Health Service, while UP Manila-Philippine General Hospital released protocols for UP Diliman on March 10.

The guidelines prohibit official travels and require a 14-day self-quarantine for members returning from travel overseas. The university will also postpone all big campus events and conduct online classes.

The university also urged community members to practice social distancing, proper hygiene and behavioral etiquette to combat the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Members of the UP system who came in contact with a COVID-19 patient must see a doctor at UPHS or the nearest health facility.

Persons under investigation were being monitored in coordination with the university’s Health Service and Quezon City Epidemiology Surveillance Unit, it said.

Buildings visited by persons under investigation were being disinfected, it said.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said higher education institutions should deploy available distance learning, e-learning and other alternative modes.

They should also evaluate students based on available indicators and forego other curricular activities or the rest of the semester. They may also postpone graduation ceremonies if needed.

Private higher education institutions need not obtain CHED’s approval before undertaking such measures but should inform the commission about any changes, according to an e-mailed copy of the March 11 memo issued by CHED chairman J. Prospero E. de Vera III.

Mr. de Vera also said some hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 cases that are serving as training centers for medical and nursing students have been requiring students to continue their rotation duties or fail their internship program.

“The commission appeals to the officials of these hospitals to exercise leniency during this difficult time and explore alternative modes that will continue the medical training and education of their students without compromising their safety,” he said. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas