Samford University has suspended all university-sponsored travel to China due to the coronavirus outbreak. J. Michael Hardin, vice president of academic affairs, said in an email sent to students on Jan. 31.
“Due to recently updated guidance from the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Samford University is suspending all university-sponsored travel to mainland China, including Hong Kong, effective immediately,” the statement said.
Executive Vice President Brock Buck also stated in an email on Feb. 3 that Samford will continue to monitor the coronavirus and has also advised students to take all precautions to avoid getting the flu.
“While there have been no reported cases with any connection to Samford (or Alabama), the university is taking proactive steps to ensure the safety and health of our community out of an abundance of caution,” Buck said in a statement.
The university has also recommended the Samford community avoid traveling to China. Any student, faculty or staff member who has recently visited mainland China must be evaluated by a health care provider before returning to campus.
Alabama is now also monitoring the outbreak and the Department of Public Health released a statement on Jan. 22 saying that they are in contact with the Center for Disease Control. This comes after the CDC confirmed multiple cases of the virus in the U.S. last week.
According to the CDC, at the time of press, there are 11 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States. These cases were reported in Illinois, Arizona, California and Washington. On Monday, Feb. 3, another case was confirmed in Boston.
The ADPH has advised anyone showing symptoms of the coronavirus to seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms include a cough, trouble breathing and a fever.
“People with these symptoms should instead contact a physician, urgent care provider, or hospital emergency room for screening and care,” the statement said.
Although several cases have been reported in the U.S., the ADPH and the CDC believe the risk of the coronavirus to the American public remains low.
In recent weeks, the World Health Organization has also declared the coronavirus a global health emergency due to how the virus could affect other countries.
“We don’t know what sort of damage this virus could do if it were to spread in a country with a weaker health system,” WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebryesus said in an interview with the BBC.
At the time of Ghebryesus’s interview, there were 98 coronavirus cases in 18 countries outside of China, including eight cases of human-to-human transmission of the virus in four countries including the United States.
The Republic of the Philippines Department of Health reported that as of Feb. 1, a 44 year-old man has died from complications due to the coronavirus including pneumonia and influenza.
“The vast majority of cases outside China have a travel history to Wuhan, or contact with someone with a travel history to Wuhan,” Ghebryesus said.
The coronavirus is a respiratory virus that has infected more than 7,000 people, according to the BBC. This specific virus is classified as 2019-nCoV. Patients with the coronavirus are admitted to a hospital and given treatment for symptoms while the immune system fights the virus. The coronavirus can cause pneumonia in severe cases. The CDC said that the virus initially spread from animals to people but reports now suggest that it now can be transmitted between people.
“Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring,” the CDC said in a statement.