To: GCU Community Members
Date: February 12, 2020
Dear Faculty, Staff and GCU Community Members—
As our nation continues to address the Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, I wanted to ensure that you have as much information as possible. The university has also shared information with students and we will keep the entire GCU family updated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) are working hard to learn as much as possible about this new virus so that they can better understand how it spreads and its associated illness.
The CDC considers this new virus, which causes respiratory illness, a public health concern based on current information. However, the immediate health risk to the general U.S. public is considered low at this time. The CDC and the World Health Organization are closely monitoring the situation and providing ongoing guidance. In addition, New Jersey health officials recently launched a hotline (1-800-222-1222) for the public to ask questions. As of February 10, the CDC reported 13 people in the United States were positive for the virus.
GCU Board of Trustees co-chair and New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith M. Persichilli has advised that if individuals have not traveled and are feeling ill, the symptoms may be related to flu or other respiratory viruses. We are in the height of respiratory virus season, she said, so everyone should practice good health habits such as washing hands often and staying home when sick.
This is an evolving situation, and the most up-to-date information can always be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
A useful Q&A is below. Thank you in advance for doing your part to be aware of this public health issue and for doing your part to stay healthy.
Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D.
Questions & Answers
What is the difference between seasonal and novel coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses and there are different types of coronavirus within that family, much like there are different types of influenza viruses. Coronaviruses in general are not new, they are quite common and are a frequent cause of respiratory illnesses such as the common cold. Coronaviruses tend to circulate in the fall and winter months, similar to influenza. Most people get infected with these viruses at some point in their lives. The type of coronavirus that has recently emerged in Wuhan, China is a new type of coronavirus and is infecting people for the first time (which means that people do not have any immunity to it).
What are common symptoms of Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?
Information to date suggests this virus is causing symptoms such as:
• Shortness of breath
How is 2019-nCoV spread?
At this time, it’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people. Chinese officials report that sustained person-to-person spread in the community is occurring in China. Person-to-person spread in the United States has not yet been detected, but it’s likely to occur to some extent.
What measures can be taken to prevent 2019-nCoV?
There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.
What preventive measures should be taken to help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses?
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or into your sleeve, not your hands.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
• Stay home from class and work if you’re sick.
• Avoid people who are sick.
• Get a flu shot – it’s not too late to be protected.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.
How is 2019-nCoV treated?
Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for the coronavirus. There is no vaccine to prevent this virus, and the CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
What precautions should be taken for students or faculty who traveled to China?
The CDC recommends that travelers avoid non-essential travel to Wuhan, China. Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan. To our knowledge, we are not aware of any student or faculty member who has recently traveled to mainland China or to the Wuhan province, where the disease originated. However, if a person traveled to China in the last 14 days and is sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing they should:
• Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
• Avoid contact with others. Try to stay at least six feet from other people.
• Stay home from school and work.
• Not travel while sick.
• Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or their sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Students who have returned from China but are not sick may continue to attend class and work.
Travelers from China should monitor for the following symptoms for 14 days after their return:
• Shortness of breath
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• New Jersey Department of Health