In light of the holiday season, the Office of the Provost has issued a notice to the student body concerning Ebola preparedness and travel restrictions.
In the Nov. 24 advisory, the University said it would not approve any academic or faculty trips to Liberia, Ghana and Sierra Leone, the countries most affected by the outbreak. Further, it cautioned members of the community about traveling to the area on their own. The Ebola virus is primarily in West Africa, but a few isolated cases have been reported in other areas, including the United States.
The situation is being monitored globally, and Seton Hall has been considering the updates in the outbreak, even creating a working group to revamp the Emergency Preparedness Plan for Pandemic Events that was already in place to better prepare for Ebola.
According to Mary Beth Costello, Director of Health Services and the leader of the Ebola Preparedness Committee, Ebola would require a different plan because it is not an airborne illness, the typical pandemic.
The Committee was formed to monitor the global developments in the Ebola outbreak and keep the University personnel informed and prepared. The Committee consists of: South Orange Health Officer John Festa; Health Service’s Assistant Director Diane Lynch, APN; Thomas Giordano, Assistant Director of Public Safety; Mary Ellen Roberts, professor at the College of Nursing; and Charles Creamer, senior Human Resources generalist.
Costello said that in the event of an Ebola case on campus the Public Relations Department would handle media communications, and the Provost would determine if any statements should be released regarding travel.
“Essentially anyone who does travel against recommended government advice has been asked to inform Health Services of their plans,” she said in an email.
According to Costello, no student has recently traveled to an affected country or plans to do so, however, students who go to Health Services for standard sick visits are screened for recent travel. Some students traveling home over this past holiday weekend had to depart in airports with international flights. Although there have only been four total cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some students were concerned to travel with so much attention focused on the outbreak.
“A good amount of people near my gate were coughing and sneezing so I was definitely worried about the possibility of getting sick,” Junior Brian Franklin said.
He traveled from Newark Liberty International Airport to Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
Junior Emily Feldman traveled from the Newark Airport to the Fort Lauderdale International Airport the weekend after Thanksgiving.
“I feel that the media blew the Ebola situation out of proportion,” she said.
“I think the University did the right thing by sending out a friendly message about traveling safely. It was courteous of them to remind people to be careful,” Feldman added.
According to the CDC website, as of Dec. 3 there are currently over 10,000 confirmed cases of Ebola in countries with widespread transmission and there have been over 6,000 deaths.
Mary Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.