Seton Hall University’s Health Services sent out new guidance regarding novel coronavirus, the latest flu-like virus which is thought to have originated in the Hubei province of China in Wuhan City. The direction, which was sent out in an email blast to the University community advised students and faculty who have been in close contact with someone confirmed to have the coronavirus for 14 days and contact health services immediately.
The email also advised anyone who has traveled to mainland China or has spent time in a laboratory or healthcare facility working with coronavirus patients in the last 14 days to self-quarantine for two weeks and contact health services, as well.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 13 positive cases of coronavirus in the United States since Jan. 21 with 420 people tested for the virus so far in 41 states, including New Jersey. Sixty of those tests are still pending.
The epidemic, which was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization on Jan. 30, has killed 1,017 so far in China, surpassing the toll of the deadly SARS outbreak in 2003. The virus is currently ravaging Wuhan City located in the country’s Hubei province. According to numbers from WHO, nearly 32,000 of the confirmed 42,708 cases in China are in Hubei.
Outside of China, WHO says that there have so far been 395 confirmed cases in 24 countries on four continents.
On Feb. 3, Princeton University ordered several of their students to self-quarantine for 14 days as colleges and universities across New Jersey banned or restricted travel to mainland China on official university business.
Seton Hall, which has several affiliations with several Chinese intuitions, including Wuhan University, has temporarily ceased class meetings in Beijing, Shanghai and Zhuhai cohort locations, according to University spokeswoman Laurie Pine.
“Seton Hall is committed to maintaining the health and safety of the University community and keeping everyone updated about the evolving global health emergency caused by the Coronavirus,” Pine said in a statement. “We are in close contact with state authorities and the New Jersey Department of Health and continue to monitor the situation.”
According to the University, the China M.B.A. program through the Stillman School of Business has approximately 300 Chinese national students currently enrolled.
Pine also confirmed that “one of our scholars traveling in China and another scheduled to come to campus this Spring remain in China due to the travel restrictions,” but so far the University does not know of any Seton Hall students or faculty who have been directly affected by the outbreak.
Back stateside, the College of Arts and Sciences hosted a “pop-up panel” with members of the of the Biology and Asian Studies departments to give a brief rundown of the coronavirus, which included a demonstration of an N95 respirator by Biology Department Professor Dr. Brian Nichols, the only mask known to prevent the wearer from inhaling possibly infected respiratory droplets transmitted through coughing and sneezing.
As for how to avoid catching the virus – the panelists advised taking simple measures to avoid infection, such as washing hands with soap and hot water for 30 seconds and receiving the flu shot, which will help cut down on false positives since symptoms of the novel coronavirus are similar to Influenza. According to the CDC, symptoms of novel coronavirus include fever, sore throat, congestion, dry cough, malaise and headach, making novel Coronavirus difficult to identify without molecular testing.
“I think the most important is to be diligent but do not overreact,” said Nichols, noting that other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS have had much higher mortality rates than the 2019 novel coronavirus. “In the 2019 Coronavirus, it’s only looking at a little bit over a 2% mortality rate.”
Nicholas Kerr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @NickKerr99.