Following a university-wide notice that went out this past week, this message is intended to reach all Boston College spring semester students abroad. International health officials are closely monitoring the development and spread of a new type of Coronavirus, which appears to have begun in Wuhan, China. We are writing to share information with you, increase awareness, and remind you of resources that are available to you. The OIP is monitoring the situation closely and we are in touch with our partners abroad, as well as colleagues at the University and practitioners in the field for further updates.
To date, there have been a growing number of confirmed cases of the virus. The majority of these cases have been in Mainland China, however in the past week a small number of cases have been found in other parts of the world, including the U.S. and in other countries where our students are studying.
The US Department of State has issued an alert to U.S. citizens traveling to China. Information about 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) can be found on the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) website, including information for travelers by county. You may have also heard that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the ongoing coronavirus outbreak a global emergency and has issued advice for the general public to help stay healthy while traveling, practice food safety and protect yourself and others from getting sick. Symptoms of the virus are similar to the common cold and flu.
If you have a respiratory condition (common cold, bronchitis, pneumonia) and are in the affected areas, or were, within the past 14 days, or were in contact with someone who recently traveled to the affected area/s, you should be evaluated for the Coronavirus. Please refer to the OIP website for details if you need to contact GeoBlue. News & Safety Alerts are also available through your GeoBlue dashboard.
The WHO’s standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough;
- If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your healthcare provider;
- When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
- The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
You are advised to continue to follow updates and instructions regarding Coronavirus provided by your host university of program abroad. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns.
Yours in health,
Office of International Programs