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Health Advisory: 2019 Coronavirus

Update 1/25/2020

Situation Update

Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Saturday extended its highest travel warning to China's Hubei province due to concerns over a coronavirus epidemic that originated in the provincial capital of Wuhan.

Currently over 800 cases have been confirmed with at least 25 deaths -- the latter all in China. More cases are being identified as being due to person-person spread. Several cities in China have (in excess of WHO recommendations) instituted lockdown of transport within and out of their cities. Screening has been expanded at Taiwan’s International airports. All direct flights between Taiwan and Wuhan were canceled as of Thursday, with Taiwanese carriers China Airlines and Mandarin Airlines announcing cancellations through February 27.2019-nCoV, as it is known, has not at this time been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization, but they are re-evaluating daily. However, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said on Tuesday a 55-year-old woman working in Wuhan tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving at Taoyuan International Airport on Monday and telling quarantine officials she was suffering from a fever. The CDC has updated its Travel Guidance to recommend people avoid non-essential travel to Wuhan, China. Local public health departments have activated their medical emergency operations centers and are holding regular updates.

 

The Wuhan Virus: How to Stay Safe

The CDC definition that triggers isolation and testing for 2019-nCoV remains quite strict:

  • travel to Wuhan within 14 days AND fever AND lower respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, chest pain)
  • recent contact with a Coronavirus case AND fever OR lower respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, chest pain)

Recent travel with cold symptoms should NOT trigger significant concern, initiate usual self-care and stay home when you are ill to prevent spread to others.  Symptoms that seem to be worse including cough and fever are more likely to represent flu than Coronavirus, but anyone with those symptoms who has travelled to Wuhan within the past 2 weeks or has severe symptoms should call the Line at 1922 to see if they need to come in.

Campus Guidance: Preventive Measures

We have received several inquiries regarding cancelling campus events or quarantining recent arrivals from China. We are considering these seriously, however at this time we feel that the likelihood of person-person transmission of this virus within the NCCU community is low. In the meantime, we are working with our housing and other campus colleagues to reinforce the messaging that ANY student with respiratory symptoms should practice good self-care and hygiene to avoid transmitting infections to others, as described below. Recent travelers should always be on extra alert.

Our thoughts are with the campus community members who have family and friends in the most heavily affected areas; while the health impact of the virus itself has so far been quite minimal, the measures taken to contain it are challenging to those caught in the middle.

In the news recently, novel (new) coronavirus is causing an outbreak of pneumonia illness in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. This outbreak began in early December 2019 and continues to expand in scope and magnitude. Global surveillance is in the early stages and the CDC expect more cases to be confirmed in China and beyond its borders. Initially some patients were linked to the Wuhan South China Seafood City however, since closing the market on January 1, 2020, more cases have been identified suggesting that some person-to-person spread is occurring though it’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. There are several known coronaviruses that infect people(link is external) and usually only cause mild respiratory disease, such as the common cold. However, at least two previously identified coronaviruses have caused severe disease — severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV(link is external)) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV(link is external)). SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV have been ruled out as the cause of the current outbreak.

While the spectrum of disease caused by this virus is not yet known, meaning some may have only mild symptoms, we know that this strain has the potential to cause severe disease and death, especially among the elderly and those people with underlying health problems or compromised immune systems. Many characteristics of this novel coronavirus and how it may affect people are still unclear.

This situation is evolving rapidly, and our website will be updated with significant development along with campus messaging when appropriate. For now, we follow CDC and local public health department recommendations by advising you to:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Frequently, and certainly after sneezing or before/after touching your face or a sick person
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid contact with others who are sick and do not travel while sick.
  • Travelers to Wuhan should avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).  
  • Older travelers and those with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to Wuhan or other affected areas with their healthcare provider.

For further information, see the dedicated CDC website (https://www.cdc.gov.tw/) (English website: https://www.cdc.gov.tw/En).

Stay well!

 

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