Update to Students About the Coronavirus

Posted on 3/2/2020 3:04:20 PM

The Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 or 2019-nCov, continues to be in the news. IUP does not have any reported or confirmed cases of the virus at this time.

The university’s Health Service is monitoring the emerging facts about the disease and working with the Indiana County Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to understand and enact best practices for screening and treating any student that may report symptoms. We are continuing measures already in place designed to keep our community healthy; in light of recent concerns about the virus, we have increased precautions in the dining facilities and residence halls.

Classes and other events will continue as scheduled unless we are otherwise advised by state or national agencies.

Please continue to consult official university communication channels, especially the IUP website, for updated information. The university’s Health Service website offers information about Novel Coronavirus 2019-NCOV, with links to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site also includes a Frequently Asked Questions site, addressing more detailed information about Coronavirus.

Experts say that the virus causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person to person. The virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

Earlier this month, the US Department of State issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory for China. On February 29, Level 4: Do Not Travel advisories were announced for Daegu, South Korea, and Lombardy and Veneto, Italy. In accordance with these announcements, we continue with a travel ban in place for all members of the IUP community for the People’s Republic of China and to these cities in South Korea and Italy. This means that no student or employee is permitted to travel to these areas identified as Level 4: Do Not Travel sites on university business.

We know that many of you are planning to travel during the upcoming spring break. As always, your health and safety are our primary concerns. Please consult the US Department of State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for any travel advisories or cautions.

The human coronaviruses can spread from an infected person to others through the air by coughing or sneezing; close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands; and touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.

Symptoms of the 2019-nCov have reportedly been mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you or anyone close to you have been to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea within the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, or if you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19, you can call the Health Service at 724-357-2550 for assistance—after hours you can call the Indiana Regional Medical Center Emergency Department 724-357-7121. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no specific antiviral treatment for 2019-nCov. People with 2019-nCov should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.

While the immediate risk of this new virus is believed to be low, there are simple daily precautions that everyone should always take to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue or the crook of your arm, and then promptly wash your hands, or use hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available.

  • Get plenty of rest/sleep.

  • Get the seasonal flu vaccine. Though not protective against the coronavirus, the seasonal vaccine may prevent against the flu which is circulating on campus and is known to cause possible severe respiratory illness.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued the following recommendations for use of facemasks and other personal protective equipment related to Coronavirus:

  • It is not recommended that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

Please contact the IUP Health Service at 724-357-2550 or email health-inquiry@iup.edu with any questions or concerns.