Coronavirus Update: A message from Dr. Paul Genecin

January 26, 2020

To:  All Students, faculty and staff

On Friday, I wrote to let you know that Yale Health, Yale Emergency Management, and Environmental Health and Safety are closely monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, and that we would keep the community updated as new information became available.

I write today to inform you that last night, Yale became aware that a high-school student from China who was participating in the annual Yale Model United Nations (YMUN) conference, scheduled for January 23-26 on our campus, exhibited cough and fever and was taken to Yale New Haven Hospital, where the student tested positive for influenza. This test result suggests that the student has influenza rather than 2019-nCoV infection. However, out of an abundance of caution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has asked that the student be tested for 2019-nCoV. We expect results in the middle of the week.

The patient, who does not exhibit severe symptoms, has been released from the hospital, but has been isolated pending the CDC’s diagnosis. The student is in good condition and we will continue to monitor their progress.

Last night, Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun, in consultation with health experts, requested that YMUN cancel all activities that had been scheduled for today, Sunday, January 26. YMUN organizers have reached out to advisors as well as those at Yale who had a part in the conference, to inform them of today’s cancelation. This was to be the event’s closing day, and while Yale regrets that the participating MUN students will not be able to complete their conference’s program, we feel it to be in the best interest of those students and of the Yale community to take this precaution.

We have established a dedicated Yale Health hotline at 203-432-6604 or 866-924-YALE (866-924-9253). All concerned members of the Yale community and YMUN participants should feel free to contact us.

What follows is a restatement of the background information and guidance I offered in my letter on Friday.

We are working closely with campus partners as well as the Connecticut Department of Public Health to track the overall situation around the coronavirus and to protect the health and wellbeing of the Yale community. Yale Health and Yale Medicine are maintaining information on their webpages:

Yale Health: https://yalehealth.yale.edu/
Yale Medicine: https://www.yalemedicine.org/

Background:

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the immediate health risk from the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) to the general American public is considered low at this time. Airline passengers from China arriving at major U.S. airports are being screened for illness. and China has restricted travel in several cities to help limit the spread of the virus. The vast majority of the approximately 850 reported cases (as of Friday) are on the Chinese mainland. Two U.S. cases in travelers returning from Wuhan to Washington State and Chicago, Illinois have been reported as of Friday. We anticipate that there may be additional U.S. reports of infection in coming days.

Public health authorities are investigating the virus’ origin, transmission, and details about the spectrum of illnesses. Coronavirus can spread from person to person by coughing and other close contact. The 2019 new coronavirus typically causes moderate illness with flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, and congestion. Shortness of breath is reported in patients with more severe illness.  Some patients — particularly the elderly and those with chronic health conditions — can develop a severe form of pneumonia and deaths have been reported. There is no current vaccine for this or other coronaviruses, and no effective antiviral antibiotic therapy.

Medical care:
Individuals who have traveled recently to Wuhan and surrounding regions or have had close contact with an ill person from those areas AND are experiencing flu like symptoms should seek medical attention from your primary care provider.  

If you are a Yale Health member, you should contact Internal Medicine (203-432-0038), Student Health (203-432-0312) or Pediatrics (203-432-0206). For urgent attention, please call Yale Health Acute Care: 203-432-0123. NOTE: We have established a dedicated Yale Health hotline at 203-432-6604 or 866-924-YALE (866-924-9253). All concerned members of the Yale community and YMUN participants should feel free to contact us.

Patients should provide their travel history and can expect to be asked screening questions related to 2019-nCoV risk when seeking care in clinical locations. Members of Yale Health concerned about 2019-nCoV should call first so that we can review symptoms and travel history and make appropriate recommendations.

Prevent illness and its spread:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if soap and water are not available
  • Avoid contact with affected patients
  • Cover your cough/sneeze or cough/sneeze into your elbow, throw tissues away and wash your hands immediately

More information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization:

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/
CDC Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
WHO: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

We will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.