Hours after Chicago health officials confirmed the city’s second case of the deadly coronavirus, Loyola officials temporarily banned travel to China.
The newest Chicago patient is the spouse of the woman who was diagnosed with the virus Jan. 24 after she was in China, according to a Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) press release. This is the first person-to-person spread of the illness in the U.S.
“We know coronaviruses are most likely to spread through close personal contact, and we know this second patient had close contact with his wife after she began to develop symptoms, so it’s not totally unexpected that he acquired the virus,” Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of CDPH, said in a press release.
The Jan. 30 email from the Wellness Center said current students studying in China aren’t in the Hubei Province — where the virus has had the most significant outbreak. It also said, “in an overabundance of caution,” Loyola has temporarily prohibited any university-sponsored travel to China.
Administrative Director Joan Holden said the Loyola community has no reason to be concerned, but advised there are ways to minimize chances of exposure.
“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 told The Phoenix earlier this week. “There’s no reason for the Loyola community to be alarmed right now about this.”
The CDPH press release said both patients are hospitalized and stable, and emphasized the risk to the general public remains low.
“People in the community do not need to change their behavior based on this news,” Arwady said in the press release. “For example, they don’t need to cancel events, avoid mass gatherings, or wear gloves and masks in public.”
As of Feb 4., there are 11 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. — two in Illinois, one in Washington, six in California, one in Arizona and one in Massachusetts — according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.