HUNTINGTON — Universities across the region are monitoring the coronavirus, urging students and faculty who may have traveled or will travel to China to take precautions, though risk remains low.
Two students from the University of Miami, in Oxford, Ohio, are being tested for the new strain of the virus that originated in Wuhan, China, and is now spreading throughout China. The Journal-News reported Tuesday that university officials said a student who recently returned from China visited a student health center Monday with “very mild symptoms” that were consistent with the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will perform tests for the student and the student’s traveling partner.
Students were seen wearing masks this week, though officials said the situation is low risk and the two students were remaining in their residence.
Marshall University officials said they did not know of any faculty or students who may have traveled to China recently. Leah Payne, university spokesperson, said the university is monitoring the situation through the CDC, but the threat to the Marshall community is low.
“Our international students have been advised to follow their country’s guidance in regard to travel,” Payne said. “They have also been advised to seek medical attention if they have traveled from China within the last 14 days and are experiencing flu-like symptoms, although it is important to note that we are not aware of anyone, student or faculty member, in that category.”
West Virginia University is also cautioning students and faculty who may travel abroad, but also reminded the community to generally take precautions against other viruses like the flu.
In a statement, WVU said it requires faculty, staff and students to register all university-related travel. By registering, travelers will receive updates on regional concerns, including coronavirus. Registering also ensures access to the university’s international medical, safety and security service, including medical coverage while abroad.
The U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 3 Advisory asking that people stop all nonessential travel to China.
According to the CDC, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. There are several known coronaviruses that infect people and usually only cause mild respiratory disease, such as the common cold. However, at least two previously identified coronaviruses have caused severe disease — severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus.
Signs and symptoms of this illness include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
There are at least five confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus in the U.S. On Thursday, China raised the death toll to 170 with thousands infected. The new virus has now infected more people in China than were sickened there during the 2002-03 outbreak of SARS, according to The Associated Press.