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Ohio U warns students of possible coronavirus infection at Miami University

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Ohio University launched a new webpage Tuesday afternoon to inform staff, faculty and students about the recent international outbreak of the novel coronavirus, an illness that originated in Wuhan, China.

A statement about the webpage, signed by Vice President of Student Affairs Jason Pina and Chief Medical Affairs Officer Kenneth Johnson, arrived in Ohio U students’ inboxes the same day news broke that two students at Miami University of Ohio were tested for possible contraction of the virus.

The university statement asked all “to be extra vigilant at this time as this is a quickly evolving situation.”

Ohio U suggested students use basic preventative measures, such as frequent hand washing with warm water, avoiding hand contact with bodily orifices, and staying home if ill to help avert the spread of any respiratory infections.  

A male student at Miami University met the criteria Monday morning for possible coronavirus infection due to mild symptoms and the student’s recent travel, according to a statement from Miami University Vice President of Student Affairs Jayne Brownell and Director of Student Health Services Terri Buzzell.

The student, and another person who he traveled with, remain isolated at their off-campus residence while they await health test results, the statement said.

Because of the coronavirus scare, Miami University postponed two basketball games: A men’s game against Central Michigan on Tuesday and a women’s game against Western Michigan on Wednesday, according to a report from The Columbus Dispatch.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is investigating the two possible cases of coronavirus, according to Cleveland.com. Dan Tierney, Gov. Mike DeWine’s spokesman, told the publication there was no report of anyone being hospitalized as a result of the potential cases in Ohio. 

Last week, the ODH declared the coronavirus a “Class A Reportable Infectious Disease,” according to the Columbus television station, WBNS. The ODH defines this category of diseases as “diseases of major public health concern because of the severity of disease or potential for epidemic spread,” and says that one should “report immediately via telephone upon recognition that a case, a suspected case, or a positive laboratory result exists.”

The outbreak of the virus began at a market in Wuhan that sold live poultry, seafood and other animals, according to The New York Times. The coronavirus causes respiratory infections, and though milder forms can result in the common cold, rarer forms can be lethal.

There is no vaccine for this strain of coronavirus. However, several drug companies are racing to develop one, according to The New York Times. It tends to take more than a year for scientists to develop vaccines, according to the report.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a “Warning Level 3,” the highest level warning concerning international travel, recommending people avoid all nonessential trips to China. The U.S. Department of State also increased its travel advisory for all of China to level three, urging Americans to “reconsider travel” to China.

Cases of the coronavirus rose nearly 60% between Monday and Tuesday, according to The New York Times.

As of Tuesday evening, there were over 5,900 confirmed cases in China, with 132 total deaths, according to CBS News. More than 1,000 American citizens are unable to leave the city of Wuhan. 

Most confirmed cases of the virus have been in the central Chinese province of Hubei, where several cities have been placed on lockdown.

Aside from China and it’s special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, cases of the infection have occurred in the U.S., Thailand, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, France, Canada, Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia and Germany, according to The New York Times.

The total number of cases skyrocketed since Jan. 21, when there were only 282 reported cases worldwide, according to data from the World Health Organization.

There have been five confirmed cases in the U.S. — two in California, one in Washington state, one in Arizona and one in Chicago.

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