UMass Amherst addressing concerns of Coronavirus

Hampshire County

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The deadly Coronavirus continues to spread throughout the world and it’s even causing some concern in western Massachusetts.

Even though the confirmed cases are thousands of miles away from here, steps are still being taken to prevent an outbreak. Umass Amherst’s International Programs Office decided to suspend its Spring 2020 program in China.

In a statement to 22News, Umass Amherst said in part:

“This impacts seven students who will be offered other programs abroad or the option to stay on the Amherst campus this semester. The students were set to study in Shanghai and Beijing.”

UMass Amherst

Health Alert: Corona Virus 2019nCoV

Campus officials are keeping a close eye on the coronavirus and are working with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has advised that the current risk to Massachusetts residents is low.

Corona Virus 2019nCoV is a virus that causes respiratory illness. It was first identified in January 2020 in Wuhan, China. A case was confirmed in the United States on January 21. The CDC has issued a travel advisory and is performing screening at major hubs of travel to the US, including Los Angeles (LAX) San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), Atlanta, and Chicago. Travelers from the Wuhan region of China will be funneled through these ports of entry in order to contain further outbreak and exposure to others.

Symptoms of Novel Corona Virus include:

Fever, cough, congestion, runny nose, stuffy nose, difficulty breathing, severe weakness, and pneumonia.

Symptoms may develop rapidly and be much more dramatic than a “typical cold.”

If you have travelled in or through Wuhan China, or if you have had direct contact with someone ill with the Novel Corona Virus in the past 14 days AND have any of these symptoms,  CALL UHS Triage Advice Nurse at 413-577- 5229.

  • If you are feeling very weak or have a hard time breathing and are “short of breath” (you get out of breath very easily and gasp for breath or have uncontrolled coughing while speaking or doing normal activities)
  • Stay where you are until one of our nurses calls you back. Do not come to the Health Center, attend class, or any dining hall in order to limit risk of exposure to others.
  • If your symptoms are severe and you cannot wait for a nurse to call you back, call 911.

If you have traveled through Wuhan China please monitor your health for 14 days post travel. As this is cold and Flu season, it is far more likely that if you become ill, it is due to a typical cold or even the Flu.

Prevention of 2019nCoV includes Health Smart behaviors:

  • Careful and frequent handwashing, especially after touching any commonly shared items such as doorknobs, phones, keyboards, faucets, staircase or escalator railings, elevator buttons, counter tops, etc.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing, sneezing, and/or or congested with a runny or stuffy nose.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.
  • Avoid close contact with others if they appear ill, or if you are ill. Keeping a 3-6 foot distance between you and others can help prevent the spread of most illnesses.
  • Careful disinfecting and cleaning of frequently touched items such as doorknobs, phones, keyboards, faucets, staircase or escalator railings, elevator buttons, counter tops, etc.
  • Proper Rest, Nutrition and Hydration: Your body works really hard when you are sick or exposed to illness.

Help your immune system work best by following these principles:

  • Drink plenty of water, at least 8 big glasses daily (1.5 liters). You should not feel thirsty. You should feel the urge to urinate (pee) at least 3 times a day, and your urine should be pale yellow. The darker your urine, the more water you should try to drink–especially if you are sick. 
  • Eat balanced, colorful meals with protein, fruit, and vegetables. If most of the food on your plate is beige, it’s a good chance you could use more protein, fruits, and vegetables!
  • Get extra rest. Travel, Back to School time, busy schedules, and changes can be stressful to your body and mind. Take time for yourself to rest quietly and nap, read for pleasure, or catch up on your favorite podcast!
  • Don’t smoke or vape.

Further information from the CDC:

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/watch/novel-coronavirus-china


2019 Novel Coronavirus FAQ for the UMass Amherst Community

Q: What is 2019 Novel Coronavirus?

A: 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Symptoms can include fever, cough, congestion, runny nose, stuffy nose, difficulty breathing, severe weakness, and pneumonia.

Q: What is UMass Amherst doing about 2019-nCoV?

A: The University is closely monitoring the outbreak of 2019 n-CoV. There are currently no identified cases of infection in Massachusetts or at UMass Amherst, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has advised that the current risk to Massachusetts residents is low. While the likelihood that the coronavirus will appear on our campus is minimal, we are nonetheless prepared to respond and will provide updates to the community as needed.

Campus officials are working closely with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the University is communicating proactively with individuals who may have traveled to or near the affected locations in China. Anyone who may have been exposed to this infection and is having fever, cough or shortness of breath should contact the University Health Services triage nurse at 413-577-5229.

Q: What if I recently traveled to Wuhan, China?

A: If you are a UMass student, faculty or staff member and have travelled in or through Wuhan, China, or if you have had direct contact with someone ill with 2019-nCoV in the past 14 days, please call the UHS triage nurse at 413-577-5229.

If you were in Wuhan or had direct contact with someone ill with 2019-nCoV and feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing within 14 days after you left Wuhan:

  • Call the UHS triage nurse at 413-577-5229.
  • Stay where you are until one of our nurses calls you back. Do not come to the Health Center, attend class, or visit the dining hall, to limit exposure to others.
  • Practice careful and frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others. Use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • If you live with others, wear a mask if you are coughing, sneezing, and/or or congested with a runny or stuffy nose.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

Q: Am I at risk for 2019-nCoV infection in the United States?

A: The CDC states that the risk to the general American public is low at this time. This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment may change daily. The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC’s web page 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China.

Q: How can I help protect myself?

A: The simple actions below will help to prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses and create a healthier campus community.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

We are currently in cold and flu season, and Massachusetts has seen an uptick in flu symptoms in the past month. It is not too late to get a flu shot, as flu season is expected though April. We encourage all students, staff and faculty to obtain a flu shot to reduce the impact the virus can cause to individuals and our campus community.

Q: Will a mask protect me from respiratory illness?

A: Different cultures have different customs with regard to the use of protective masks. Masks are worn for a variety of health reasons and do not necessarily indicate illness. There is little evidence to suggest that wearing a mask in public will prevent people from being infected by breathing in the virus. According to the CDC, the kind of masks that people often buy in pharmacies may not tightly fit the face, so the wearer can still breathe in air and infected droplets. Masks can provide protection by preventing the wearer from touching their mouth and nose, which is a common way viruses and germs enter the body. They may also help trap infected droplets when a contagious person coughs or sneezes. (Source: NPR).

Q: Is it safe to travel to Wuhan, China or other countries where 2019-nCoV 2019 cases have occurred?

A: The situation is evolving. Stay up to date with CDC’s travel health notices related to this outbreak. These notices will be updated as more information becomes available.

Q: Is there a vaccine?

A: Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against 2019-nCoV.

Q: What are the treatments?

A: There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for 2019-nCoV infection. People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Learn about 2019-nCoV Treatment.

Q: What is a novel coronavirus? 

A: A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified.

Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world. Seven different coronaviruses, that scientists know of, can infect people and make them sick. Human coronaviruses commonly cause mild to moderate illness in people worldwide. Two newer human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have been known to frequently cause severe illness.

Q: What is the source of 209-nCoV?

A: Public health officials and partners are working hard to identify the source of the 2019-nCoV. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting the virus likely emerged from an animal source.

Q: How does the virus spread?

A: This virus probably emerged from an animal source but now seems to be spreading from person-to-person. Person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. It’s not clear yet how easily 2019-nCoV spreads from person-to-person. When person-to-person spread has occurred with MERS and SARS, it is thought to have happened mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. Spread of MERS and SARS between people has generally occurred between close contacts.

Q: Should I be tested for 2019-nCoV?

A: If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from Wuhan, China, please call the UHS triage nurse at 413-577-5229. If you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from this area, please call the UHS triage nurse at 413-577-5229. Your healthcare provider will work with the Mass. Department of Public Health and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for 2019-nCoV.

Q: Is 2019-nCoV the same as the MERS-CoV or SARS virus?

A: No. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. The recently emerged 2019-nCoV is not the same as the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or the coronavirus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003. There are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.

Q: Am I at risk for 2019-nCoV from a package or products shipping from China?

A: In general, because of poor survivability of coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of 2019-nCoV associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of 2019-nCoV in the United States associated with imported goods. Information will be provided on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus website as it becomes available.

Learn More:

2019-nCoV FAQ – CDC
2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China – CDC
2019-nCoV Travel Health Notices – CDC
Coronavirus FAQ – NPR

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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