BY Gian Capolino
The coronavirus has infected over 40,000 people across the globe. According to the Associated Press, a vast majority of the cases are located in China, but now over two dozen other countries have also reported cases of the illness.
The coronavirus is the name of a family of flu-like viruses that were first reported last month in Wuhan, China, but the disease has rapidly been spreading across the globe. As of Feb. 9, there have been more than 900 reported deaths from the coronavirus according to the Associated Press.
The first case of person-to-person spreading of the virus in the United States was reported in Chicago on Jan. 30, but the virus is not currently seen as a threat to the public.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said to the Associated Press, “The risk to the general public remains low. This person-to-person spread was between two very close contacts, a husband and wife.”
The Associated Press reports that there are currently 11 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, and Sacred Heart University has informed the university community about the virus. In a campus-wide email sent on Jan. 30, Dean of Students Larry Wielk informed members of the university that “the risk on campus and to the general American public is considered low at this time.”
However, Sacred Heart is still doing its part in ensuring the safety of everyone in the Sacred Heart community.
“The coronavirus seems to be under control in the United States, so I am not really concerned about it, for now,” said sophomore Megan McShane.
Even though the virus may not be a threat yet, Sacred Heart is not taking any chances.
“The university is working with local public health officials to monitor the situation, and we are following all health protocols issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC),” said Wielk.
Scientists and researchers are scrambling to put together potential vaccines to cure the virus, but according to the AP, experts agree that even if the process goes well, any cure for the coronavirus could take up to a year before it is ready for widespread use.
For now, those infected with the coronavirus have been placed under strict quarantine in an attempt to prevent the disease from spreading further. Health professionals believe that the coronavirus is spread in a similar way as the flu, mainly through tiny droplets from coughs and sneezes by those that are infected. The coronavirus also has similar symptoms as the flu, including fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia.
Countries around the world are also taking actions regarding travel to prevent the coronavirus from further spreading. According to the Associated Press, several nations, including the Philippines, the United States, Japan, Singapore and Australia, have imposed restrictions or full travel bans on people coming from China. The World Health Organization, along with China, has criticized these travel restrictions.
While the coronavirus does not pose an immediate threat the university community was provided with information on ways that they can stay healthy in light of this ongoing situation.
In his campus-wide message, Wielk said, “We are reminding all members of the campus community to take a number of preventive measures to fight against the potential of the flu and coronavirus including: basic hand hygiene, sneezing and coughing into your elbow to avoid the spread of germs and visiting the health center or a doctor if you are feeling sick. In addition, if you haven’t done so already, it is suggested that you get a flu shot as soon as possible. The health center currently has a limited supply of vaccinations available for students.”
Even though the university is working to keep the community informed and safe, some students are still concerned about the threat that the virus presents.
“I am still worried about the coronavirus because there is not yet a cure, and it has now been brought to the United States,” said sophomore Joseph Kiernan.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.