Wittenberg, Urbana universities address concerns about coronavirus

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Miami University, state health officials discuss possible coronavirus cases

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Officials with Wittenberg University as well as those at Urbana University are working with local and state health officials in an effort to share information regarding the coronavirus with their campus communities.

This follows reports of two possible cases of the virus at another college campus in Ohio, however officials with Wittenberg noted in a message sent to students and faculty on Tuesday that there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in the state.

Two possible cases of the coronavirus were being tested at the Miami University Oxford campus in Butler County, health officials said Tuesday.

Officials at Miami University said a student who recently returned from China, the source of the outbreak, exhibited what were described as very mild symptoms consistent with the virus. Tests were to be performed for the student and their travelling partner by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and officials stressed the situation is low risk.

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Urbana University officials are looking at their student population to determine if anyone has traveled out of the country recently or during the period of the initial outbreak of the virus, which was first reported in December in the Hubei Province of China.

Travel history or direct contact with someone who has traveled in the Wuhan area, located in the Hubei Province, are key in investigating potential cases of coronavirus, said Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health.

Representatives of Wittenberg University said in a message to their campus community that “to the best (of their) knowledge and research, no member of (the) campus community has traveled to China in the last two weeks or come in contact with anyone who has.”

They added that campus officials were closely monitoring the situation in partnership with the Clark County Combined Health District, ODH and Centers for Disease Control. Wittenberg has a total enrollment of 1,619 students, of which 1,172 live in residence halls or other campus associated housing, according to numbers provided by the university. There are currently 18 international students enrolled at the university.

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At Urbana University, officials have not received any indication of anyone showing signs of the virus as of Tuesday afternoon, said Sherry Mercurio, the Executive Director for the Office of Community Relations.

Mercurio said they are working with health professionals from the Ohio Department of Health as well as those in Champaign County in order to share accurate information about the virus with the campus community.

She said the goal is to be able to provide links to those sources later this week as well as information that differentiates symptoms associated with the common cold or flu with those associated with coronavirus.

Mercurio said Urbana University has a small population of students who do travel out of the country during their breaks.

However, she said students would have been back to campus by the first weekend of January due to the university’s academic schedule. Urbana University currently has a total enrollment of 547 students, with 338 being residential and 126 being commuters. Information on the number of international students was unavailable.

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Wittenberg University has shared links from several health agencies regarding the virus as well several preventative steps, which include regularly washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds during each washing, with its students.

“As for symptoms and the incubation period, the ODH’s site reports that ‘people who have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus have reported symptoms that may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.’ Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing,” a message to students stated.

Wittenberg also urged those who have traveled to China recently or have been in contact with someone who has and are experiencing any or all such symptoms to contact the university’s health center immediately at 937-327-7811.

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