University monitoring coronavirus outbreak

Vanderbilt University officials are actively monitoring the outbreak of the respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China.

At this time, there are no reports of coronavirus cases on the Vanderbilt campus, and there are no confirmed cases in Tennessee.

The university works closely with infection control experts at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and local and state public health officials, and follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address infectious disease and other public health concerns on campus.

Cases of the emerging human coronavirus originated in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Epidemiologic investigation has linked the cases to an outdoor seafood and animal market, suggesting the virus, dubbed 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), emerged from exposure to animals.

According to the CDC, there are more than a thousand confirmed cases in China, including cases outside Wuhan City. Additional cases have been identified in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States. Again, there have been no confirmed cases in Tennessee.

According to infection control experts, the risk of 2019-nCoV transmission remains low in the United States. However, it is important that we all remain vigilant and cautious.

What to do

The situation is rapidly evolving, and recommendations from the CDC and the U.S. Department of State change daily. Members of the Vanderbilt community are encouraged to monitor the CDC and U.S. Department of State websites.

Vanderbilt University updates will be posted to the coronavirus webpage on Vanderbilt University Public Safety’s Emergency Preparedness website.

Those who believe they may have been exposed to or infected with the novel coronavirus should seek medical care right away. Before you go to a clinic, doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

Vanderbilt students should contact the Student Health Center, while faculty and staff should contact the Occupational Health Clinic for further evaluation.

The CDC has issued information regarding symptoms, prevention and treatment, as well as a number of other frequently asked questions and answers.

All Vanderbilt University Medical Center health care providers, including the Student Health Center, will assess patients for potential 2019-nCoV infection. Those with cough and fever will be asked for a travel history to determine if they are at risk for the newly identified coronavirus. Patients who respond “yes” to these questions will be masked to protect other patients as the cause of their illness is being evaluated.

Travel

The CDC and the U.S. Department of State have raised their alert levels for travel to China. The CDC has raised its advisory to “Warning Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel.” The State Department’s advisory is now at “Level 3: Reconsider Travel.”

In light of the alert levels from the CDC and the State Department, student travel requests to the country will require additional review if the travel is intended as an official Vanderbilt-sponsored activity-consistent with the university’s Study Away Risk Assessment Committee’s (SARAC) policies and student international travel policy.

The university also recommends that faculty and staff reconsider non-essential travel to China in light of the new alert levels.

The United States also has expanded the screening of travelers arriving from Wuhan to 20 ports of entry, up from five, federal officials announced Tuesday, Jan. 28.

All members of the university community who are traveling are urged to register travel with the university in order access global assistance through the Vanderbilt Incident Response for Travel (VIRT) team.

Campus Resources

Those with questions or concerns about coronavirus infection should contact the following:

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