General Coronavirus FAQ
The Coronavirus disease COVID-19, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. COVID-19 is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.
For the latest updates and information on COVID-19, please consult the following sites:
Much is unknown about how COVID-19 spreads. Most often, the spread from person-to-person occurs via close contacts (about six feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory illnesses spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unclear if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why the CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.
CDC guidance for when it is OK to release someone from isolation is made on a case-by-case basis, and includes meeting all of the following requirements:
- The patient is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications
- The patient is no longer showing symptoms, including a cough
- The patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart
Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others.
Current symptoms for confirmed cases have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days after exposure. In severe cases, the virus can cause pneumonia [source: CDC]. People are mostly infectious when they present flu-like symptoms and are coughing, sneezing and producing respiratory droplets.
No. There have been no reported cases of the Coronavirus affecting anyone within the BC community. As of March 10, there has been one confirmed and 91 presumptive cases in Massachusetts.
Based upon guidelines from the CDC and the U.S. State Department, Boston College has:
- Suspended University-funded travel for all students, faculty and staff to China, South Korea, and Italy, until further notice
Based upon recommendations from the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston College has:
- Advised students, faculty, or staff returning from China, Italy, Iran, or South Korea to self-quarantine at home for 14 days
- Individuals who show signs of fever or respiratory symptoms, must stay home, limit contact with others, and call to consult with University Health Services (students) or their primary health care provider (faculty and staff)
Note: The CDC is not advising general quarantine for all travelers, but rather travelers who have visited the above-mentioned countries. If that advice changes, the University will share additional guidelines.
If you feel ill, you should not attend class and seek medical care. You should always notify your professors if you are unable to attend class for any reason. If you are ill, we expect faculty to provide reasonable accommodations so that you can complete your courses. Accommodations may include extensions on assignments, make-up exams and/or excused absences. If you need assistance with accommodations you may contact your academic dean.
The incubation period for the Coronavirus is two weeks. Students, faculty, or staff who have traveled to or from areas with increased risk more than two weeks ago and are not ill have no cause for concern. Individuals who have traveled to areas with increased spread of the virus, or who believe they may have been in contact with an infected person, should monitor their health and contact their primary care physician (faculty and staff) or University Health Services (students). Practice basic respiratory and hand hygiene, and stay home until you are recovered.
If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness such as a cough or shortness of breath within 14 days after travel to areas of increased spread of the virus, you should call a healthcare professional and cite your recent history. If you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from one of the affected areas, you should also call a healthcare professional and cite their recent travel. Individuals should follow the advice of healthcare professionals with respect to their specific situation.
If you know a student who has flu-like symptoms, encourage them to contact University Health Services at 617–552–3225 (24/7) to seek advice and care.
The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Everyday preventative actions can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including the flu or a cold. These include:
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Staying home when you are sick
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
- Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing (an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol also works)
- If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
- Don’t share commonly used items such as cups, utensils and other personal items
The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory viruses, including COVID-19. There is no evidence that using a face mask will provide any benefit to people who are not sick. A face mask should be used by people who have been exposed to COVID-19 and are showing symptoms of the Coronavirus. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of face masks also is crucial for health workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility).
If you traveled to an area with increased spread of the virus in the last 14 days and feel sick with a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:
- Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a health care provider's office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms
- Avoid contact with others
- Do not travel while sick
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing
- Wear a surgical-type face mask if you have one or as soon as you get to a healthcare facility that can supply one
- 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
For medical emergencies (shortness of breath, chest pain): call 911
Yes, it is safe. People receiving packages from areas with increased spread of the virus are not at risk of contracting the new Coronavirus. From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages. There have not been any cases of COVID-19 infection in the United States associated with imported goods.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new Coronavirus.
There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. People infected with COVID-19 are treated with supportive care to help relieve symptoms.
We understand some community members may feel anxious about this evolving public health situation or have concerns about friends and family living in areas currently experiencing an outbreak. Students are encouraged to contact University Counseling Services as needed.
BC Facilities staff has worked diligently since the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak to regularly clean the campus and disinfect common areas such as dining and residence halls, academic and administrative buildings, locker rooms, and restrooms, as well as common touch areas such as doors, hand rails, and elevator buttons. They will continue their efforts throughout the semester.
Dining Services will:
- stop using reusable flatware and offer plasticware in its place
- no longer offer self-serve salad and fruit bars
- offer only pre-packaged and labeled salads
- move self-serve toppings/condiments such as lettuce, tomatos, pesto etc., behind the line
- serve pizza slices only on paper plates
- individually wrap baked goods for customers to grab
- not allow for reusable mugs to be handed to staff
- sell Flu Buddy packs in main dining halls
- clean all common touch areas every 20 minutes including beverage handles, refrigerator door handles, water filter push, etc.
- remove the salt and pepper shakers from the tables and replace them with salt and pepper packets
- change out utensils every 20 minutes
- require employees to wash their hands every 30 minutes
- post flyers in dining halls containing information on how people can protect themselves and include flyers with every catered delivery