The novel coronavirus that has spread through China has made its way to the U.S. and universities, including Northwest, are taking precautionary measures for an outbreak.
The University sent out a reminder via email at 10:40 a.m. Jan. 30 to students, faculty and staff to take precautions from the coronavirus that has spread from Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, to several regions and countries, the U.S. having recently been added to that list.
The school urges students who feel sick or are noticing symptoms of coronavirus, resembling the common cold or influenza, to visit the Wellness Center on campus or a local hospital.
As of Feb. 5, Northwest is still discussing specific protocol for what would happen if someone on campus became infected with coronavirus. Communication Manager Mark Hornickel said the University is fortunate to be in a “wait and see” position.
“Fortunately there are no cases in Missouri, so we need to make sure we are all on the same page,” Hornickel said about provisions relating to the spread of disease.
When the severe H1N1 strain of influenza spread across the nation in 2009, University Wellness took an outreach approach by providing vaccinations to more than 700 students and educating the school population about how to prevent transmission.
“If you become ill, stay away from others as much as possible to keep from making them sick,” the University advised in a statement. “If you must leave home, wear a face mask. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Wash your hands often.”
However, the University would have to take extra steps to ensure safety since there is no vaccine to prevent coronavirus infections.
Northwest advises students to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for every-day preventative actions, which are all similar to prevention practices relating to influenza.
“No cases have been reported with any connection to the Northwest campus,” the University email said. “None are confirmed in Missouri.”
The Washington Post reported that the virus has killed more than 427 people and infected more than 17,000 in China as of Feb. 5.
The U.S. has seen 11 confirmed cases of the virus that infected 3,235 more people in China Feb. 3. This was the largest single-day jump since the National Health Commission began releasing statistics.
Cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Arizona, Massachusetts, Illinois, Washington State and California as of Feb. 5. Universities in these states have started to take precautions to help students and staff protect themselves from contracting the Coronavirus.
Arizona State University, University of Massachusetts, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Washington and University of California Berkeley all have issued online warnings to all of their students and staff to protect themselves from the Coronavirus.
All of their websites advise people to “wash their hands for at least 20 seconds or to use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.”
People are further advised not to share food, drink, makeup, cigarettes or electronic cigarettes. The sites, all reciting common practices and preventative measures from the CDC and medical professionals in the Mayo Clinic, advised people not to hesitate to stay home when sick and contacting their health care provider with serious concerns.
Other precautions include following the Center of Disease Control’s website on Coronavirus and to clean frequently touched surfaces.
The University of California Berkeley’s website said that the institution asks its staff to help students who are advised to stay home by utilizing “alternatives to classroom-based learning,” rather than encouraging a possibly infected student to attend class.
The website provides a link to their policies and accommodations for students who can’t attend classes in person.
Closer to Maryville, the St. Joseph Health Department is paying close attention to updates from the CDC and released a press release on the issue. It included reminders regarding the spread of respiratory disease in the U.S.
According to the CDC, “Many of the germs that cause respiratory diseases are spread by droplets that come from coughing and sneezing.” The best way to prevent transmission is by avoiding contact with these droplets.
The St. Joseph Health Department said the CDC has been expecting the person-to-person transmission in the U.S. for several weeks, reminding healthcare providers to be hypervigilant and even beginning to require organizations to inquire travel plans when providing patient care.
St. Joseph Health Department said though the virus is a concerning threat, it is a respiratory virus that can be transmitted similarly to the flu, meaning prevention can be as easy as washing hands regularly and practicing sanitary methods learned in
“While the immediate risk to the general American population is believed to be low at this time, there are steps everyone can take in response to this emerging public health threat,” the release stated.
Northwest said the University will provide updates to students, faculty and staff in procedure and policy as necessary and questions should be directed to University Wellness.