Health Advisory Regarding 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Columbia Health
January 23, 2020

Dear Columbia Community:

We are actively monitoring the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and want to share with you important information about the virus’s symptoms and current recommendations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with the World Health Organization as this outbreak, originating in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, continues to expand.

Currently, there are no known cases in the area. However, we want to provide some additional information as this situation evolves. This virus belongs to a family of viruses called “coronavirus.” There are other viruses in the coronavirus family that can cause illness in both humans and animals. These viruses can cause either mild illness like a cold or can make people very sick with pneumonia. This particular coronavirus has not been seen previously in humans. There is no vaccine available for this or other coronaviruses.

How is it transmitted?

Since this virus is very new, health authorities continue to carefully watch how it spreads. It is spread from animals to humans and also appears to be spread from person to person. Incubation is likely 5-7 days, but may be up to 14 days.

What are the symptoms?

Fever, cough, and shortness of breath are the most common symptoms. If you have any of these symptoms and have been traveling or in contact with someone that has been traveling in the Asia-Pacific region, please seek medical attention (see below).

  • Please review the CDC Travel Health Notice. The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Wuhan, China.
  • If you have traveled recently, especially to the Asia-Pacific region, and are experiencing the above symptoms please seek medical attention immediately:
    • Columbia students, please reach out to your campus medical service: Morningside (212-854-7426) or CUIMC (212-305-3400).
    • Faculty and staff should reach out to your primary care provider.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if soap and water is not available.
  • Expect additional time at airports and transportation hubs throughout Asia and in major US cities for health screening to prevent spread.

You can also visit Columbia Health’s news for more information about the virus and support at Columbia Health. Columbia University continues to monitor this situation and will share information on the Preparedness to support our community.

With care for our community,

Melanie Bernitz, MD, MPH
Associate Vice President and Medical Director, Columbia Health       
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine (in the Center for Family and Community Medicine)