New coronavirus update

January 30, 2020

Tori Tragis

A new respiratory virus has appeared in the province of Wuhan, China. This new, or novel, coronavirus (2019-nCoV) causes respiratory illness similar to influenza. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. The World Health Organization proclaimed it to be a "public health emergency of international concern," as cases have spread beyond Wuhan to other parts of China, as well as to other countries.

At this time, there are no cases reported in Alaska, and only a handful of cases in the U.S. These cases have occurred in people who had recently returned from China, and there is no indication that the virus is spreading in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and the Alaska Section of Epidemiology indicate that the risk of contracting the virus in the U.S. is extremely low for the general population.

If you have recently traveled to China or another country where cases of 2019-nCoV have been reported, please be aware of the symptoms and seek medical attention if you become feverish and have difficulty breathing. Call your health care provider before you go.

If you are planning to travel outside the U.S., be sure to check the CDC travel advisories.

You can find out more about 2019-nCoV from the CDC, the World Health Organization and the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services.

While 2019-nCoV is not here in Fairbanks, influenza is, and everyone at UAF is encouraged to take precautions to avoid becoming sick with the flu. These steps will help protect against colds and other viruses as well.

  • Regular hand-washing, or use of hand-sanitizer if hand-washing facilities are not available

  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your sleeve, rather than your hands

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces in your home or dorm room that you frequently touch

  • Get a flu shot

  • Avoid people who are sick

  • Stay home if you are sick

  • Get sufficient rest and eat well to keep your immune system functioning well

Students in Fairbanks can go to the Student Health and Counseling Clinic during walk-in lab hours for a free shot. Students outside Fairbanks and all employees and eligible family members can get their shots at local pharmacies, which offer them for free under the university’s health insurance plan.