We are writing to share information about the new strain of coronavirus that has been making the news and to inform you of the steps the University is taking to monitor the situation and keep our community healthy.
Coronaviruses are a large, very common family of viruses. They most frequently cause symptoms such as mild fever, chest congestion, or cough. A new strain of the virus, traced to a seafood market in Wuhan, China, is causing more severe pneumonia-like illness that may include a significant fever and lower respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath.
At present, there are no reported cases of this new strain of coronavirus at Penn or in Philadelphia, and it does not appear to present any immediate risk to the Penn community.
We do expect to see upper respiratory illnesses in our community, as it is cold and flu season, and urge everyone to take the following general precautions during this time of the year:
- Use good hand hygiene: Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Limit the spread of germs and illness: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow. Avoid sharing food, drinks, utensils, cups, vapes/JUULs, etc.
- Stay home if you are feeling unwell. If you are not feeling better after 24 hours, seek medical guidance.
If you have traveled to China in the last 14 days and develop cough, fever, or difficulty breathing, please contact your medical provider or the Student Health Service immediately. You should inform them of your recent travel prior to going in for medical treatment.
At present, we recommend deferring all travel to Hubei Province, where the city of Wuhan is located, in accordance with U.S. State Department travel guidance. Travel to other parts of China can continue as planned, but we urge you to consider deferring all non-essential travel for the time being. All international travelers should register their travel with Penn’s Global Support Services prior to departure to receive the latest information relevant to their itinerary. Additional updates will be provided as the situation develops.
Our colleagues from Campus Health, the Student Health Service, Risk Management, and Penn Global are continuing to monitor the evolving situation, in partnership with the Health System and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and will continue to post up-to-date information on the Campus Health website and the Penn Global website.