Update on Coronavirus Outbreak in China

Jan. 30, 2020

To the UM Community:

As you’re aware, world health officials are working to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan, China.

There are no known cases of 2019-nCoV infection in Montana, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the current risk to the American public of becoming infected is low. However, the World Health Organization has declared the epidemic an international public health emergency.

An intercampus preparedness team of Montana University System (MUS) faculty, administration and staff is closely monitoring the situation and ensuring that appropriate response plans are in place to protect our campus communities. The team is working closely with state and local health officials.

The CDC currently has no restrictions on travelers returning from China, although these travelers may undergo screening at an airport or receive information on what to do if they experience symptoms. 

The CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel to China and the U.S. State Department has issued a recommendation to reconsider travel to China and to not travel to Hubei Province. These warnings and alerts prompted a formal review of any planned University-sponsored travel to China by UM’s International Travel Review Committee. This committee's decision will be announced shortly.

Unless you have recently traveled to Wuhan, China, or have been in close contact with someone who has, there is no reason to be concerned that you have been exposed to coronavirus. Passing through an international airport is not considered by the CDC to be a risk factor.

If you develop fever, cough or difficulty breathing and, in the past 14 days, have visited Wuhan or been in close contact with a confirmed or suspected case of novel coronavirus, please call your regular health care provider immediately.

For reliable information and updates on novel coronavirus, please follow these links to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the World Health OrganizationMontana Department of Public Health & Human Services and UM's Curry Health Center

Please keep in mind that the biggest health risk right now is the regular flu season, which sickens thousands of Montanans each year. As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Get rest, eat well and be vigilant about the following practices, which are the best defense against flu:

  • Cover your cough or sneeze – ideally into your elbow and not into your hands.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use sanitizing gels.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home if you’re sick, and seek medical attention if you feel it is becoming serious.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
  • Get your flu shot. It’s not too late!