Shortly after the Chicago Department of Public Health announced the city’s first confirmed case of the new coronavirus Jan. 24, Loyola’s Wellness Center sent an email to the Loyola community alerting them to the status of the “emerging global health concern,” the email read.
The email, sent from Wellness Center Administrative Director Joan Holden, emphasized the Chicago case has no connection to Loyola, and said the risk to the general public remains low.
“We do not have widespread transmission of the virus in the United States, but it’s recommended that you should practice good hand hygiene and keep your hands away from your eyes and your mouth,” Holden said in an interview with The Phoenix. “There’s no reason for the Loyola community to be alarmed right now about this.”
Holden said the Wellness Center sent out the email to let the community know Loyola is aware there’s a lot of media attention surrounding the virus and will continue monitoring the status of the illness in the U.S.
Since it was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by Chinese officials in late December, the Novel Coronavirus — meaning it’s a new type of coronavirus, which is typically a respiratory illness — has spread from China to 16 countries, infecting thousands of people, according to the WHO.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Jan. 21 the virus reached the U.S. in Washington state and days later, was reported in Illinois, California and Arizona. As of Jan. 28, the U.S. has five confirmed cases in four different states, and 26 states have people under investigation, according to the CDC.
Both the CDC and Loyola’s Wellness Center listed symptoms of coronavirus as fever, cough and difficulty breathing. The CDC said symptoms may show up as quickly as two days after exposure or as long as 14 days after.
There’s currently no vaccine to prevent this virus, so the best way to prevent getting the illness is to avoid being exposed to it, the CDC said. However, it’s not yet known how easily the virus spreads from person to person. There’s also no specific treatment for the virus, according to the CDC .
If someone has traveled to China in recent weeks and begins to feel sick, they should “seek medical care right away … avoid contact with others, not travel while sick … [and] wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds,” the email from the Wellness Center said.
“As always, the health and well-being of our Loyola students, faculty, and staff remains a top priority,” the email read. “When we have other significant updates, we will share them with our community.”