The Dartmouth College Health Service, Risk and Internal Controls Services, and the Office of the Provost are closely monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness due to a coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, says Dr. Mark Reed, the health service’s director.
The situation continues to evolve as five cases have to date been confirmed in the United States, all among travelers who have recently returned from Wuhan.
“We are not aware of any confirmed cases at Dartmouth or in New Hampshire,” Reed says.
Coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory illnesses, he says. This virus is causing a more severe, pneumonia-like illness that may include a significant fever and shortness of breath.
Anyone returning from China who develops a fever and respiratory symptoms—a cough or shortness of breath—within 14 days should seek immediate medical attention, says Reed. In addition, they are advised to call ahead to inform their doctor’s office of their recent travel and symptoms.
Dartmouth is recommending avoiding all travel to Hubei Province, where the city of Wuhan is located, in accordance with current U.S. Department of State travel guidance. Dartmouth travelers are advised to defer non-essential travel to other parts of China at this time. Due to the higher risk level assigned by the state department and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, China is now included on Dartmouth’s list of countries for which a travel waiver is required.
If travel cannot be postponed, the College strongly recommends that faculty and staff register their travel plans in the Dartmouth Travel Registry. All students are required to register their College-related travel plans with Dartmouth.
Health officials recommend taking precautionary measures similar to those for flu prevention, including frequent handwashing with soap and water, avoiding sick people, staying home if you are sick, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
Reed says information on this rapidly changing situation is available at the following websites: the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.
Susan Boutwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.