(Image via the Centers for Disease Control)
On Jan. 31, students at The University of Akron received an announcement through Zipmail with an update on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and new travel restrictions being enforced in the United States.
In the announcement, Dr. Joe Urgo, Executive Vice President and Provost, as well as Lisa Ritenour, Director of Student Health Services, said UA will be temporarily restricting University-sponsored travel to China until further notice.
“While the spread of the virus in the United States is still considered to be low risk, we take these actions out of an abundance of caution and with guidance from federal agencies to proactively protect our campus community,” the announcement said.
UA’s decision came after the U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel warning for China and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel to China: its highest level warning.
Additionally, all UA faculty, staff and administrators traveling abroad for University business are required to register their travel with the International Center.
University business includes, but is not limited to: attending a conference, guest lecturing, recruiting, education abroad and conducting UA-supported research, the announcement said.
Students are also required to register their travel plans, whether as part of study abroad or other UA programs, with the International Center. Students should contact Heather Pollock, Education Abroad Coordinator, for more information.
The full version of UA’s update on the 2019-nCoV, with more information on actions being taken and links to additional sources, can be found through Zipmail.
What is the Coronavirus?
Ritenour said coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which can cause illness in humans while others can be spread throughout the animal kingdom.
“There are seven different coronaviruses, that scientists know of, that can infect individuals and make them sick,” Ritenour said. “Human coronaviruses commonly cause mild to moderate illness in people worldwide.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the outbreak of the 2019-nCoV was first reported in Wuhan, China on Dec. 31, 2019.
Since then, the CDC website reports that confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV have been reported from 28 countries, including the U.S.
However, with all the media attention the 2019-nCoV has received since the first case was reported in Wuhan, China on Dec. 31, 2019, should UA students be worried?
In the U.S., there are 13 confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV across six states: Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington and Wisconsin.
Although there was suspicion of two students having 2019-nCoV at Miami University after traveling to China, the students tested negative for the virus on Feb. 2.
With this being said, Ritenour believes UA students, faculty and staff are at low risk and should exercise everyday prevention of other respiratory illnesses, such as the flu.
“Influenza is highly prevalent this time of year and we strongly encourage our campus community to take self-care precautions as well as to be up to date on your influenza vaccine,” Ritenour said.
According to UA’s Health Services website, everyday actions the campus community can take to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses include:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.