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UMMS community update: New guidance on COVID-19

UMass Medical School Communications

February 03, 2020

Feb. 3, 2020 update

This weekend the Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the state, in a man returning from Wuhan, China who is in his 20s and lives in Boston. He has been isolated under standard public health precautions, and the DPH commissioner says, “the risk to the public from the 2019 novel coronavirus remains low in Massachusetts.”

The University of Massachusetts Medical School has begun to follow new guidance issued on February 2 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, stating that individuals “who have been in Hubei province within 14 days of their return will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine to ensure they are provided proper medical care and health screening. [Those individuals] who have been in other areas of mainland China within 14 days of their return will undergo proactive entry health screening and up to 14 days of self-quarantine with health monitoring to ensure they have not contracted the virus and do not pose a public health risk.”

We continue to monitor updates from international, national and local health authorities, as well as the health and safety of members of our community. As a large, diverse campus with visitors and collaborators from around the globe, we want to share important information about our policies that are useful in protecting public health.

Personal and workplace health

  • Members of our community who have recently traveled to or returned from China, who may have come into contact with people who have recently traveled to China, or who may be exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus, are asked to contact their health care provider, Employee Health Services (508-793-6400) or Student Health Services (508-334-8464). You are urged to call ahead to inform your provider that you may have been exposed.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, the symptoms of this novel coronavirus can include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. People who have been exposed may not exhibit symptoms for up to 14 days.

Guidance related to future travel

  • The U.S. Department of State has issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for China. Our travel policy requires that UMMS-supported travel to countries with a Level 3 or 4 advisory be approved in advance by the Provost.
  • Given the uncertainties still associated with the spread of coronavirus, we strongly discourage any personal travel to China by UMMS faculty, staff and students.
  • It remains critical that all UMMS travel be registered in the Travel Registry (https://travelregistry.umasscs.net/).
  • Questions about travel restrictions to or from any other country should be directed to International Support Services at internationalsupportservices@umassmed.edu or by phone at 508-856-5746 (usual business hours) or 508-556-4498 (weekend/after hours).

These steps are taken in an abundance of caution. Our best advice remains as always: keep yourself informed and safe; be proud that you have chosen to work in a profession that is working every day to change the impact of disease; and be compassionate to those who are anxious about friends and loved ones. Even those who follow best practices can fall ill, and we must always remind ourselves to uphold our University’s values of respect, civility and a caring, inclusive environment for all.

We have created an online resource with relevant information on the coronavirus, which can be reached via a button on right-hand navigation of the www.umassmed.edu homepage.