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Coronavirus Health Advisory

[Update] Coronavirus Advisory on Student Travel

Dear Members of the Vassar College Community,

As students and staff return to campus after the Winter Break, we wish to remind everyone that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) has issued a Health Alert on the outbreak of a novel Coronavirus ( 2019-nCoV ) in Wuhan, China.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, numerous other coronaviruses circulate in animals, including camels, cats, and bats. Rarely animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect and then spread among people. An outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan City, China was reported to the WHO on Dec 31st, 2019. Most patients had links to a large seafood and animal market which was closed on Jan 1st, 2020. Currently, Chinese Health Authorities report no community spread of the virus.

More recently there have been reports of cases of novel Coronavirus infection in other countries which have been traced back to travel from Wuhan City.   As a precaution, the CDC is screening travelers from Wuhan on flights to international airports. The risk, however, to the US general population remains very low.

If you have a fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness such as cough, difficulty breathing and have traveled to Wuhan City or have a close friend from Wuhan City that was ill in the past 14 days it is important that you call the Vassar College Health Service at 845-437-5800 for an appointment to be evaluated as soon as possible.

Viruses are spread from person to person by coughing, sneezing, close personal contact (shaking hands), touching objects or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.

How to protect yourself and others

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick

If you have cold-like symptoms, you can protect others by doing the following

  • stay home while you are sick
  • avoid close contact with others
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
  • clean and disinfect objects and surfaces


Most people with this illness will recover on their own.  Medications can be given for fever and congestion to help alleviate the symptoms.

The Health Service will continue to track the situation by monitoring information from the CDC and WHO.

More information can also be found at :

Links to CDC and WHO


Irena Balawajder MD
Medical Director of the Vassar College Health Service