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Novel Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

Announcements from UR Communications

Novel Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

Information for the University of Rochester Community – Prepared by the American College Health Association (ACHA) and the University Health Service (UHS)

What is novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?

2019-nCoV is a newly identified coronavirus that is causing an outbreak of pneumonia illness. It was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Since then, the virus has been identified in multiple other countries, including cases in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate respiratory illness in people. This new virus is a public health concern because:

  • It is newly identified, so much is still unknown about it.
  • Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have caused severe illness.

What is the risk?

The CDC considers this new virus a public health concern based on current information. However, the immediate health risk to the general US public is considered low at this time. The CDC and the World Health Organization are closely monitoring the situation and providing ongoing guidance.

Symptoms and transmission:

Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing.

Person-to-person spread is occurring, although it is unclear exactly how it is transmitted and how easily the virus spreads between people.

If you travel to/through Wuhan or other parts of China:

The CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to Wuhan, China. Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan, including buses, subways, trains, and the airport. If you must travel:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to Wuhan with their health care provider.

Anyone who is considering travel to China or other areas where 2019-nCoV infection is spreading should contact the Office for Global Engagement (585-275-8699) for up-to-date information on risks and advisories.


People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for 2019-nCoV infection. (source: CDC)


There is no vaccine to prevent this virus, and the CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to it.

Currently, 2019-nCoV has not been found to be spreading in the U.S., so there are no additional precautions recommended for the general public to take.

Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • 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.

Recommendations for people with respiratory symptoms:

If you have symptoms of fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing and in the last 14 days you:
  • Traveled to Wuhan/Hubei Province, or
  • Visited an affected region in China, or
  • Had close contact with someone who had traveled to an affected region in China and had respiratory symptoms
You should:
  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
    • Students and other UHS patients: The University Health Service (UHS) is open 7 days/week during the academic year. You can call UHS at 585-275-2662 day or night.
    • Members of the University community who are not primary care patients: You are encouraged to call your primary care physician for advice.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick. Please do not get on public transportation or just arrive at the University Health Service (UHS). Instead call UHS at 585-275-1160 when UHS is open, or 585-275-2662 (physician on call) when UHS is closed.

What is the University Health Service (UHS) doing about 2019-nCoV?

No cases of 2019-nCoV have been diagnosed among UR students, faculty and staff. UHS is working closely with UR Medicine and other University offices to monitor ongoing developments.

Every student who has arrived on campus from an affected area has been screened and found to have no symptoms that merit testing for 2019-nCoV infection. We will continue to evaluate students who arrive on campus from parts of the world where this virus is known to be spreading, and we will monitor the health of those students until they are past the incubation period.