Editor’s Note — This is an ongoing story, offering university-related information about the 2019 novel coronavirus. It was most recently updated at 10 a.m., Feb. 6 to include details about recent Office of Student Affairs efforts to connect with and offer support to Chinese students on campus.
University of Nebraska–Lincoln leadership is closely monitoring outbreaks of the newly identified 2019 novel coronavirus.
To help ensure the protection and safety of the campus community, the University Health Center screens for the virus as part of standard patient assessment practices. The primary care services at UHC, which include screening for viruses, are open to students only. Chancellor Ronnie Green issued a message regarding the virus and resources available to the campus community on Jan. 31.
The Office of Student Affairs has also reached out to Chinese students on campus, offering support via an email on Feb. 3 and holding a listening session through the Chinese Student and Scholar Association (a recognized student organization) on Feb. 4.
First identified in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December, the virus (2019-nCoV) is causing an outbreak of pneumonia illness. The virus — which is being monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — has since been confirmed in multiple other countries, including the United States. There are currently no confirmed cases in Nebraska.
While the virus remains a public health concern, infectious disease specialists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center have reported that the common flu is a larger worry at this time. According to the CDC, influenza has sickened 13 million Americans this winter, sending 120,000 to the hospital and killing 6,600. In a bad year, the flu kills up to 61,000 Americans.
Students, faculty and staff who show signs of flu-like symptoms or think they have been exposed to the virus should contact a healthcare provider immediately. Students are encouraged to reach out to the University Health Center for assessment.
As preventative measures, the CDC is recommending steps that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. Those measures include:
Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and services.
The U.S. Department of State and CDC have increased travel warnings for China. The CDC travel health notice is at Warning Level 3 and recommends avoiding all nonessential travel to China. The State Department warning — which was at Level 3 (reconsider travel) on Jan. 27 — was upgraded Jan. 30 to Level 4 (do not travel). University of Nebraska policy prohibits all university-sponsored student travel to countries with this level of warning. Faculty must also obtain approval for such travel.
University of Nebraska–Lincoln students planning to study in China during the spring semester will be contacted by the Education Abroad Office to explore options. Faculty with questions about impacts to planned travel should contact the Office of Global Safety and Security at firstname.lastname@example.org.