WVU reminds spring break travelers to take precautions against COVID-19

MORGANTOWN, WV (WOAY) – West Virginia University officials remind students, faculty and staff preparing to head out on spring break to take appropriate precautions to prevent contracting or spreading COVID-19.

Those precautions include:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or the bend of your elbow, not your hands.
  • Using the nearest waste receptacle to dispose of the tissue after use.
  • Avoiding contact with sick or affected individuals.

“While there are not yet any identified cases in West Virginia or adjoining states, we know that many of our students, faculty and staff travel to a wide variety of locations, some of which may pose a threat of contamination – especially where there are large crowds,” Dean of Students Corey Farris said.

WVU’s spring break runs from March 14 through March 22. Classes resume on March 23.

COVID-19, caused by a coronavirus which first appeared in Wuhan, China, is a respiratory illness that can be spread through person-to-person contact, infected surfaces and objects or through the air. Symptoms – fever, cough and shortness of breath – can appear anywhere from two days to two weeks after exposure.

Health officials ask those who exhibit those symptoms – which are virtually the same as flu – to first call their local health department or a hospital and not to go to urgent care centers or other clinics and offices. This will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 or other respiratory infection until a preliminary evaluation can be conducted.

In addition, health officials urge sick individuals to stay home.

Students with health questions or concerns should contact WVU Medicine Student Health at 304-285-7200. WVU Faculty and staff should reach out to their primary health provider. Additional information can be found on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ website.

University officials continue to closely monitor the situation and are developing plans should the threat of COVID-19 increase in the area. Nevertheless, health officials note that most West Virginians are unlikely to be exposed to COVID-19 at this time, and the immediate health risk is low. However, according to CDC, due to the rapidly changing nature of the spread of COVID-19 around the world, it is important to prepare for potential community spread.

A website with more information is being developed and will launch later this week.

Earlier this week, in accordance with guidance from the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the Office of Global Affairs cancelled all scheduled University-sponsored trips abroad, affecting 217 students.

“The decision was made out of an abundance of caution and emphasis on the health and safety of the University’s students and campus community,” said Amber Brugnoli, assistant vice president for global strategy and international affairs.

The College of Creative Arts previously postponed a planned trip by the Wind Symphony to China, where the virus originated. Some researchers and faculty have also adjusted their plans to travel to China.

Those planning personal trips should reconsider any planned travel to impacted regions and consult the Department of State travel advisories and the CDC travel health notices.

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