ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – Cornell University has announced a case of a student possibly infected with Novel Coronavirus.
Symptoms of the virus can be similar to the flu, including body aches, high fever, and cough or shortness of breath.
Cornell officials said the student lives off campus, is in isolation and receiving care.
Only the CDC can confirm if it is Novel Coronavirus. Cornell reports the CDC is processing lab tests and it may take up to a week to learn the results.
The Tompkins County Health Department is conducting an investigation; seeking other people who may have been in close contact with the student. The health department will contact anyone based on CDC guidelines.
Last week, Novel Coronavirus prompted both Cornell and Binghamton Universities to suspend all university-related travel to China by students, faculty and staff because of the coronavirus.
Cornell is also concerned that the link between the coronavirus and China might make Chinese faculty and students targets of bias.
Vice Provost Wendy Wolford said Cornell has about 2900 faculty and students who are Chinese. It has study programs in Beijing and Shanghai.
Even if some students and faculty were recently in China, Wolford said many would have been hundreds and thousands of miles away from Wuhan at the time of the virus outbreak.
“We are really sensitive to the fact that this is a virus, because of its location and because of its unpredictability there’s a real potential for outsized panic,” Wolford said. “We should definitely be careful and cautious but it has all the makings of a situation that could spiral out of control in terms of public panic.”
“We’re very aware that we have an important community on campus who we need to reassure and protect and make sure that the stigma, that there isn’t a stigma attached to this,” she said.
University Vice President Ryan Lombardi called for compassion and empathy when announcing the possible case of Novel Coronavirus.
“It is understandable to feel uncertain or anxious during a public health crisis,” he said, “and we need to remember to care for one another and not make assumptions about others’ perceived symptoms or any characteristics of identity.”
The CDC recommends several ways to reduce exposure to the flu and other respiratory illnesses. It says people should wash their hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds, stay home when they are sick, and avoid contact with other people who are sick.