Dear Campus Community,
I am writing to update the community with new information regarding the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) which was recently identified in Wuhan, China.
To begin, I want to let you know that the Health Center has screened members of the community who have traveled to China during winter break. I want to thank all of our students who have taken the time to participate in these health screenings. I am pleased to report that there are no members of our community who are being investigated for 2019-nCoV. Many of these students continue to take additional precautions such as wearing protective masks.
On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the outbreak to be a global health emergency. While the epidemic in China is serious, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still considers the risk to the American public to be low. Thousands of cases have been confirmed in China and the epidemic is months from peaking. More than 90 cases have been exported to other countries including the United States (6 cases).
While there is still much to learn about the virus, data on the virology, clinical presentation, and transmission indicates that 2019-nCoV closely resembles the SARS coronavirus in many respects. Estimates of the disease manifestations has been assessed in two small published studies. A severe case rate of 20% has been consistent, mostly in older individuals with health problems. An incubation period of 3-7 days is most common with an upper range of two weeks. Unlike SARS and other coronaviruses, upper respiratory symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, and sore throat are not common. Most patients have fever (98%), cough (76%) and shortness of breath.
I expect that many more cases will be confirmed in the US in the coming weeks. The College will continue to monitor the outbreak as it evolves and more information becomes available. Our plan will reflect the potential exposure of 2019-nCoV to the campus.
The formidable challenge of managing the outbreak of the novel coronavirus serves as a reminder for all of us to be vigilant and take actions to keep our campus healthy. As we head into the peak of influenza season please take actions to prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses:
I will update the community when new information becomes available.
Jeffrey Goldstein, MD
Director of Health Services