Health Advisory: Coronavirus Update 1/31/20

Update 1/31/20

There have been several key developments over the past few days:

  • The World Health Organization declared 2019-nCoV a global health emergency.

  • The State Department issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory for China (do not travel).  The CDC is recommending that travelers avoid all non-essential travel to China, and UC President Janet Napolitano issued a directive(link is external) requiring UC limit non-essential UC-related travel to China.

  • CDC Guidelines for investigation have been expanded to include recent travel to mainland China in people with severe disease (see below).

  • A single case of transmission between close household contacts has been reported in the United States.   

  • Today the first Bay Area case has been reported, in Santa Clara County.  Details are not available.

  • Declaring a public health emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar today said the president has imposed a temporary ban on entry for foreign nationals who have been to China in the last 14 days. Effective February 2, U.S. citizens returning from mainland China would be subject to health screening and up to 14 days of quarantine.

There remain at this time no cases in Alameda County and no deaths or severe disease in the United States.  While it is still unknown what proportion of people become severely ill, the majority of people hospitalized internationally are older or have significant underlying medical conditions.

UC leadership throughout the system is holding regular conference calls including medical, environmental health & safety, administrative, and emergency management leadership and UC Berkeley senior leaders continue to work closely together to coordinate response and support the campus health and safety.  In addition, planning is underway to schedule an informational session by UCB infectious disease experts regarding this emerging infection.

UHS continues to see a lot of influenza and people with milder respiratory symptoms concerned about coronavirus.  Please be reminded that these infections are prevalent in our community at this time, as is common this time of year.  The best protection is handwashing (hand sanitizer works too!) and vaccination (for the flu), and please do stay home if you are ill.

Based on the revised CDC Guidelines, please call your healthcare provider (UHS Advice Line for students at (510) 643-7197) immediately if you are ill and fall into one of the following categories:

  • symptoms (fever >100.3F AND cough/difficulty breathing) AND

  • travel to mainland China within the 2 weeks before symptoms start OR contact with a proven case

This does NOT mean you have coronavirus, but it means you should put on a mask and get assessed; if you have influenza, we can also offer treatment.  Strict CDC guidelines determine who can be tested for coronavirus. 

Finally, while the CDC informs us that the risk of the virus to the U.S. general population is low, we understand that these can be anxious and stressful times.  We encourage all members of the campus community to support each other and look out for each other.