The Tompkins County Health Department will collaborate with Cornell Health to monitor a novel strain of coronavirus — which originated in Wuhan, China and has so far afflicted over 2,000 people — the department announced in a Monday health advisory.
In the health advisory, the Tompkins County Health Department said it would also work with Ithaca College Health Center and the Cayuga Medical Health Center to track the disease.
“There is low risk of infection to community residents at this time,” the announcement said. There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York state.
Additionally, the health advisory urged any Tompkins County residents who have previously traveled to China and have a fever or shortness of breath, to stay home and avoid contact with others, cover up when sneezing or coughing, and to frequently wash hands.
The Tompkins County Health department’s announcement comes after Cornell Health emailed students about the coronavirus on Thursday. In the email, the health center wrote that the University would closely monitor the coronavirus with local and state resources, while carefully following the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization guidelines on tackling the disease.
At the time, the University did not specify any of the local and state resources it planned to work with to track the illness.
Anne Jones ’04, director of medical services, told The Sun in a statement that the collaboration between Cornell Health and the Tompkins County Health Department was typical during a major outbreak.
“A campus of our size and complexity regularly experiences public health challenges requiring well-organized planning and response,” Jones said. “Cornell Health regularly partners with the Tompkins County Health Department in managing communicable illnesses and infectious diseases.”
This particular strain of coronavirus may have emerged from one of the Chinese wildlife markets in Wuhan — the Chinese government banned the trade of wildlife products due to the outbreak. Symptoms of the illness include a high fever, cough, shortness of breath and a sore throat, while pneumonia can develop in more severe cases.
As of Monday evening, the disease has sickened 2,744 people in China, of which 1,423 cases are in Hubei, Wuhan’s province.
In the U.S., there are so far five confirmed cases of the coronavirus in California, Arizona, Washington and Illinois. All patients diagnosed with the virus had previously traveled to Wuhan. The CDC screened 110 more people in the U.S. for the infection, and urged U.S. citizens to avoid all nonessential travel to China.
Anxieties surrounding the Wuhan coronavirus have also permeated campus. Chinese international students told The Sun about their worries for the disease back home and at Cornell. Shortly after classes resumed, many students could be seen wearing facemasks as a preventative measure.
Correction: A previous version of the article misstated the criteria the health advisory gave for taking additional precautions. The health advisory’s recommendation applies to Tompkins County residents who have previously traveled to China and have a fever or shortness of breath.