As the world watches the development of the new coronavirus, Indiana University is planning ahead and closely monitoring the situation with the guidance of agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Indiana State Department of Health.
"Our public health team is in constant contact with the Indiana State Department of Health and is monitoring recommendations from the CDC 24/7," said Benjamin Hunter, associate vice president for public safety and institutional assurance. "Our primary goal is keeping the IU community safe."
According to the CDC, the risk of coronavirus remains low in the United States, and there are no known cases in the IU community at this time.
"While we want everyone to take this virus seriously, it's important to remember that the virus posing the biggest risk for Hoosiers right now is seasonal influenza," said Graham McKeen, assistant university director of public and environmental health at IU. "With coronavirus, still 98 percent of all cases are in mainland China."
Given the fact that the vast majority of current coronavirus infections are within China, as well as the travel advisories to China issued from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of State, Indiana University is implementing restrictions on travel that align with this guidance.
Announced in a public safety advisory Jan. 31, IU is suspending all travel to China for faculty, staff and students. The advisory noted that the university may grant exceptions to those wanting to travel for humanitarian response to the pandemic.
The restrictions will be reconsidered when the federal advisories are modified.
If you've recently traveled to China
IU is working closely with local health departments, the Indiana State Department of Health and the CDC to closely monitor the outbreak and review the latest guidance offered from these expert sources.
At this time, IU is encouraging those who:
- Have recently traveled to Wuhan, Hubei Province, China; or
- Have been in close contact with a person who was under investigation for coronavirus while they were ill or has had a laboratory-confirmed case within the last 14 days
- Are experiencing fever, cough and shortness of breath
to call their primary care provider or campus health center.
For those who have traveled to China within the last 14 days but do not currently have any symptoms, the Indiana State Department of Health recommends self-monitoring for fever (take your temperature twice a day), cough and shortness of breath.
The same precautions used for cold and flu season apply to protecting yourself from the coronavirus.
"The best advice can often be the simplest. One of the best ways to protect yourself from any virus is washing your hands with soap and water frequently," McKeen said. "It's also not too late to get a flu shot. While this won't protect against coronavirus, it will help protect you against flu, which, again, is much more of a public health concern in Indiana than coronavirus at this point."
Other ways to protect yourself and others, according to McKeen, include covering your cough; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth; staying home if you're sick; and cleaning and disinfecting common touch surfaces frequently.
As the situation continues to evolve with coronavirus, IU public health officials say they will continue to keep a close eye on the latest developments and update information available for faculty, staff and students on protect.iu.edu.
Indiana University has experts available to the media to comment on a variety of angles related to the coronavirus: