Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
The University of Houston continues to closely monitor the global outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 disease. We will continue to keep our community informed as developments occur. To date, we have not identified any cases at our UH campuses. However, as Coronavirus has become much more prominent in the United States and has begun to spread more rapidly through parts of Europe and Asia, it is incumbent upon all of us to remain aware and vigilant of this potentially serious public health threat.
The UH System is restricting travel to all countries for which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Warning to avoid all nonessential travel related to Coronavirus. The CDC applies this warning to countries in which there is widespread community transmission. At this time, the CDC has issued the Level 3 Travel Warning to China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. Due to rapidly changing conditions, anyone considering international travel is advised to monitor the CDC’s website for the latest updates regarding travel and COVID-19.
As Spring Break approaches, the University further recommends that everyone in the UH Community examine your personal travel plans and make changes or take precautions where necessary. The University encourages the UH Community to heed all U.S. Government travel warnings related to the novel coronavirus. In recent days, both the CDC and U.S. Department of State have expanded their warnings. Refer to these links to view the latest warnings:
CDC Travel Warnings: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices
U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/
Prevention continues to be the best protection for this as well as reducing your chance of contracting other respiratory illnesses caused by influenza, parainfluenza and RSV viruses. This includes staying home when you are sick, which cannot be emphasized enough. Professors will be flexible with students missing instruction or in-class assignments and tests.
In regard to this new Coronavirus and general preventive measures, we feel it is important for staff, faculty and students to:
- Always practice good hygiene: wash hands, cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid sharing food, cups or utensils.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Make sure to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and avoid personal contact with sick people.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
- Get a flu shot.
- Recognize the symptoms of this illness which may include a high fever, cough, difficulty breathing, similar to what you may feel with the flu or a bad cold.
- Seek care and immediately notify the University Student Health Center and your health care provider if you have recently traveled to any country with a CDC Level 3 Travel Warning and are experiencing these symptoms.
- Stay home when you are sick.
The incubation period (how soon the symptoms appear from the time of first exposure) for this kind of virus is typically 10-14 days. Currently, there are no vaccines to prevent coronavirus infections, including infection with SARS-CoV-2.
For Students: Those who have recently visited China or any of the newly identified affected areas (per ongoing travel advisory updates) and are experiencing influenza-like illness, with fever greater than 100.3, and symptoms, including cough, body aches, severe sore throat, or runny nose, should consider seeking medical attention for the possibility of the flu, especially if symptoms worsen. You can contact the Student Health Center at 713-743-5151 and identify yourself as having flu-like symptoms to obtain further recommendations and guidance. You may also consult with your regular health care provider or seek treatment at a local health center if you are overseas.
Faculty and staff who are ill with flu-like symptoms should stay home and contact their personal physician for further advice.
The University remains in regular contact with local, state and federal health officials for the latest information and will continue to provide updates to the UH Community when warranted.
For additional information about Coronavirus, including signs and symptoms, transmission and risk of exposure, and what to do if you are exhibiting symptoms, please refer to the links below. The CDC’s website and Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will also issue guidance for those planning to travel or who have recently returned.
In addition, all department, colleges and divisions should review their Continuity of Operations Plans. Preparedness is key and knowing how you will continue essential functions during an interruption is vital. For more information on the Continuity of Operations Planning Program visit the Office of Emergency website.
For more information, including resources and a list of Frequently Asked Questions, click here.
Vanessa Tilney, M.D.
Chief Physician/Executive Director, Student Health Center
University of Houston