Novel Coronavirus Outbreak Update

From:
Leslie Lawrence, M.D., Executive Director for Health and Wellness; Prabhat Hajela, Ph.D., Provost; Curtis Powell, Vice President for Human Resources

We are writing to ask for your cooperation in ensuring the health and safety of the campus community in light of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China.


As communicated on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring developments around an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Chinese authorities identified the new coronavirus, which has resulted in hundreds of confirmed cases in China, including cases outside Wuhan City, with additional cases being identified in a growing number of countries internationally. The first case in the United States was announced on January 21, 2020. There are ongoing investigations to learn more.


The CDC is using the following criteria in order to know when to suspect a case of 2019-nCoV:



  1. Fever (100 degrees F [37.8 degrees C] or higher) AND symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) - and in the last 14 days before symptom onset, history of travel from Wuhan City, China, or close contact with a person who is under investigation for 2019-nCoV while that person was ill. 

  2. Fever OR symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) - and in the last 14 days before symptom onset, close contact with an ill, laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV patient.


Student Health Services is actively monitoring the information, protocols, and recommendations being communicated by the CDC and the New York State Department of Health. These guidelines may change, and we will review and implement recommendations as we receive them. Take all recommended precautionary measures, and use your best judgment, as the situation progresses (see below).  It is important that we act responsibly, individually and collectively, in order to protect the Rensselaer community.  


In an abundance of caution, the university is implementing the following protocols:



  1. All students who have returned from China within the last 14 days must inform the Rensselaer Health Center by calling (518) 276-6287.

  2. All faculty and staff who have returned from China within the last 14 days must inform Human Resources by contacting Louis Padula, Director of Benefits, Retirement and HRIS, by telephone at (518) 276-6164 or by email.

  3. All faculty, staff, and students who have returned from China within the last 14 days and have the symptoms outlined above, or came into contact with someone displaying these symptoms, should immediately contact their primary care physician (faculty or staff), or call or make an appointment with Student Health Services (students). 

  4. All students who are currently in China should immediately contact the Rensselaer Health Center by calling (518) 276-6287 or by email.

  5. All faculty and staff who are currently in China should immediately inform Human Resources by contacting Louis Padula, Director of Benefits, Retirement and HRIS, by telephone at (518) 276-6164 or by email.

  6. There will be no university-sanctioned travel to China until further notice, including using airports in China as transit points. Since individuals on university business travel are required to use Concur, Rensselaer will flag all travel to or through China.

  7. Travel to China for personal reasons is strongly discouraged. Students who plan on traveling to China must inform the Rensselaer Health Center by calling (518) 276-6287. Faculty and staff  who plan on traveling to China for personal reasons should notify the Provost, Prabhat Hajela, and/or the Vice President for Human Resources, Curtis N. Powell.

  8. Proposed visits to Rensselaer, in Troy or Hartford, by anyone either from China, or who has traveled to or through China, are strongly discouraged at this time. Faculty or staff planning a campus visit by a person from China must contact the Provost and/or the Vice President for Human Resources, as outlined above. Before coming onto campus, these visitors must disclose where they have been, and must complete a screening questionnaire that will be provided by the Rensselaer Medical Director.


The actions outlined above will help to significantly decrease the risk of 2019-nCoV to the Rensselaer campus community. Please visit the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak website for ongoing updates and links to information and resources. Please contact the Health Center at (518) 276-6287 if you have further questions or concerns. We appreciate everyone working together to keep our campus community healthy.


PREVENTION

The recommendations you hear from medical authorities regarding protecting yourself from the flu are the same recommendations that are being applied to 2019-nCoV: 



  • Wash your hands often, especially after shaking hands with others (alcohol-based hand disinfectants may be used if there is no access to soap and water);

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing;

  • Cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow if you do not have a tissue;

  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, especially after contact with others;

  • Keep a three-foot [one-meter] distance between yourself and anyone who is ill;

  • Stay home if you have a fever and influenza-like symptoms and consider seeing your primary care provider depending on the severity and length of your symptoms. Do not return to work or school until you've had 24 hours without a fever. This is important to help limit the spread.

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