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Duke Officials Monitoring Coronavirus Outbreak

No travel restrictions in place for China

3D illustration of coronavirus

Duke officials continue to closely monitor an outbreak of a novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China last month and has begun to spread to other countries, including the United States.

The illness has been linked to a large seafood and animal market in Wuhan, suggesting the virus may have initially been transmitted from animals to humans. Symptoms of the virus include fever and lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing) similar to a common cold.

The illness can be more serious in rare circumstances, especially for patients with a weakened immune system, the elderly, or those with underlying respiratory problems.  More serious symptoms include bronchitis or pneumonia.

Some airports are introducing new screening measures for travelers coming from China as a precaution. However, Duke is not currently restricting travel to or from China or other international areas based on the illness.

Duke regularly has faculty, staff and students who travel to China, including to Duke Kunshan University, a partnership between Duke and Wuhan University. The university also welcomes visiting students and scholars from China for conferences and regular exchanges.

“We are in regular communication with our colleagues at DKU, our infectious disease experts at Duke Health, and with local, state and national agencies,” said Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for Administration. “We will continue to monitor this issue as it evolves to determine potential impact and actions we may need to take.”

The Center for Disease Control suggest the following precautions for anyone traveling to an
area where the illness is prevalent:

  • 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.

Anyone who has recently returned from China and is sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, should seek medical care right away and call ahead to the doctor’s office to inform them of recent travel and symptoms. Likewise, visitors to campus from China who report these symptoms should seek medical care and alert their Duke hosts immediately.