Michaela Lumpert, Campus Carrier news editor
As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in China, the Study Abroad Office and the Health Center are preparing Berry’s community for the possibility of the virus spreading. Although the chances of the virus spreading are low, both departments are monitoring the situation abroad.
The coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan, China According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus is spread between both animals and humans and is currently affecting more than 40,000 people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been monitoring the virus since its outbreak and they believe that the disease came from human contact with seafood at a large seafood and animal market.
As of right now, there are no vaccines for the coronavirus. Assistant Director of the Health Center Melanie Merrin explained that the virus can only be treated with supportive treatment.
“Not everyone who tests positive for the virus has a severe case; some people have mild flu-like symptoms, all the way up to pneumonia,” Merrin said. “The people who are dying are getting pneumonia from the virus.”
Prevention of the coronavirus, as Merrin described, is similar to the prevention of the flu. Students should wash their hands often, avoid rubbing their eyes after sneezing and coughing, cough into their elbows and use health etiquette.
Currently , there are no Berry students studying in China. Chris Borda, the director of International Experiences, explained that the best way to handle a situation like this is to monitor what the state department is stating about the situation.
“We are watching recommendations from the World Health Organization, from the CDC,” Borda said. “We are working with the providers that we run programs with, like ISA, CIS abroad, communicating with us and letting us know that the programs they have in China this semester aren’t running because of things right now, and watching it for summer programs moving forward.”
The state department releases a travel advisory ranking for each country that students can study abroad in. A level-one country means that any student can study abroad. The further a country moves up the scale, the less safe it is for a student to study abroad there. Currently, China is listed as a level-four country, stated by the state department , meaning that no student can study abroad there until cleared by the state department. Following the state department, Berry is not allowing any programs abroad until they are cleared by both the state department and the program hosts
Level-two countries usually mean that students can study abroad with no problems, but the situation is being monitored, and level-three countries usually require an appeal from the student and the program to the state department, explaining why they want to study abroad in a country deemed concerning.
According to Borda, the International Experiences department will continue to monitor the situation in China and will continue to release updates about the situation as students move forward with looking into programs in China.
Merrin explained that Health Center has not released any updates about the virus because they do not want to worry students.
“Right now the risk here is very low,” Merrin said.
If the situation were to worsen, Merrin stated that the Health Center would monitor situation and act accordingly to the recommendations of the CDC.
“The CDC is where you are going to get the best, most current information, and that’s who we look to anytime there’s any sort of infection concern,” Merrin said. “There’s no recommendation right now beyond the normal things.”
For more information and to follow the outbreak, visit http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus from more updates.