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Monitoring the coronavirus outbreak

A message to the UMass Medical School community from Terence R. Flotte

UMass Medical School Communications

January 28, 2020

Please be aware that UMass Medical School and clinical partner, UMass Memorial, are monitoring developments related to the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, which originated recently in Wuhan, China.

At this time, a small number of cases have been documented in the United States. However, there are currently no identified cases of infection in Massachusetts; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that the risk to those residing in the United States remains low.

According to the CDC, symptoms of this novel coronavirus can include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. It is important to note that people who have been exposed may not exhibit symptoms for up to 14 days.

Members of our community who have recently traveled to China, or who may be exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus, are asked to contact their health care providers as soon as possible; you are urged to call ahead to inform your provider that you may have been exposed.

The fact that we are currently in the midst of cold and flu season may increase uncertainty and, as such, is an important time to remind you to take reasonable precautions to minimize the spread of all respiratory viruses, including:

      • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
      • Stay home when you are sick;
      • When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth with a tissue or the crook of your elbow;
      • Avoid close contact with people who are sick; and
      • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Tips to stay healthy and the latest data about flu cases in the commonwealth can be found on the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s website.

We are a large and diverse community, with people from more than 75 countries who work, study, teach and do research across our academic health sciences center; international travel is common, especially for faculty and students involved in research and teaching activities that span the globe, and we are fortunate to have an active international office that regularly provides information about making travel as safe as possible in an uncertain world.

While the likelihood that the coronavirus will impact our campus is low, we remain prepared to respond as needed and will provide updates to our campus community as needed. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.