By: TAYLOR HILL
There has been a lot of discussion about the recent outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). In times like these, it is best to get facts straight and stay informed.
As Dr. Kristyn Quimby, Assistant Dean and General Education Co-Director here at IU South Bend stated, “being knowledgeable about the risk, the threat, and how to stay safe when we have crises are paramount. What can we do? Sharing credible, reliable, valid information is how we can lessen fear, panic, or xenophobia.”
Director of the Health and Wellness Center, Dr. Teresa Dobrzykowski says there are no known or suspected cases of Coronavirus in the Michiana area.
“Per the latest CDC update (Feb 5), there are 28 countries with confirmed novel coronavirus cases. To date, there are 11 confirmed cases of novel Coronavirus in the United States with 76 pending.” said Dobrzykowski.
“The states with confirmed cases of novel coronavirus include Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington,” she added.
What exactly is the Coronavirus? Dobrzykowski explained it this way, “The novel Coronavirus is one of several viruses in this family of viruses. Most Coronaviruses affect animals.” She also said that those who are infected could possibly spread the illness before showing symptoms.
As a lower respiratory illness, symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and can range from mild to severe.
When asked how the virus is spread Dobrzykowski said, “at this time, it is believed that the novel Coronavirus is transmitted primarily via respiratory droplets, within close contact (about 6 feet). So, coughing on or near someone, picking up contaminated objects (such as used tissues, clothing, utensils and food containers) is discouraged.”
On February 5, IU South Bend released a public safety advisory informing students that the Office of Public Safety and Institutional Assurance is monitoring the situation. They also shared the up to date travel and risk advisory information from the CDC, which can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/risk-assessment.html.
This details what steps should be taken by those who are considered at low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk. At the moment since there are no recorded cases in Indiana everyone in the state, who has not traveled to Hubei Province or anywhere in mainland China within the last 14 days, is considered low-risk.
If you have recently traveled to China, or have been in direct contact with an individual with Coronavirus contact your primary care provider and follow their instructions.
“This is a very difficult and stressful time for individuals who come from China, who have family in China, or who travel often to the country. IU asks that all members of our community treat those who are affected by 2019-nCoV with the care and compassion that we would expect for ourselves. There is no place for discrimination, bias, or harassment against anyone on account of this outbreak,” stated the public health advisory.
Both Quimby and Dobrzykowski wanted to emphasize that there are public health threats to keep in mind daily, including vaccination rates, heart disease, street safety, safe bike lanes, and very importantly the flu.
In the case of the flu Dobrzykowski said, “the whole country, including the Michiana region, has been hit particularly hard with the flu this season, this year. Several schools and school systems within the region and state have had to close due to reported high numbers of children, teachers and staff ill with the flu and other respiratory illnesses.”
Schools that have been recently shut down due to illness in Indiana include Washington High School, Greenfield Central schools, and Jennings County School Corporation. There been more closings in other US states including Kentucky, Ohio, Florida, Alabama, and Virginia.
Steps that should be taken to avoid the flu include getting vaccinated, wash hands often, cough into your elbow or sleeve, stay well rested, eat healthy foods and drink fluids. Dobrzykowski added that it is not too late to get the flu shot.
For those that are ill, especially people with other existing health issues such as asthma or diabetes, seek healthcare. Doctors can prescribe or recommend medications that can provide an amount of relief to symptoms. Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, congestion, body aches.
“Get plenty of rest, fluids—and STAY HOME. Taking good care of yourself is the best way to prevent the occurrence and reduce the effects of the flu” said Dobrzykowski.
Individuals in need of care can contact the Health & Wellness Center at 574-520-5557.
For those with concerns regarding travel to or from China, contact AVPpsia@iu.edu. International students or students planning to travel abroad can contact the Office of Overseas Study at 812-855-9086 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and International Services at 1-812-855-9304 or email@example.com with any questions.