University takes precautionary measures to prevent spread of coronavirus

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Following increasing reports of coronavirus spreading worldwide, a report from Stanford Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) has asked all community members who have returned from traveling to China within the past 14 days to “self-isolate,” regardless of whether they show symptoms of the disease.

“If you are an employee, please first notify your supervisor and then call the Stanford University Occupational Health Center for an initial phone consultation appointment with a physician,” the report said. “If you are a student, please contact Vaden Health Center for a phone consultation.”

After speaking with medical officials through these phone calls, those who have recently returned from China will be told when they can return to class or work. The EH&S report further stated that Stanford is working with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department to actively monitor the developing situation and its potential impacts. 

“We are prepared to implement measures if needed on our campus,” University president Marc Tessier-Lavigne said at a town hall event on Thursday. “We also don’t want to get ahead of ourselves; we don’t want to create any panic. But I assure you that this will be something that we monitor every day, every hour as we go forward.”

The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has affected more than 9,700 individuals worldwide and has taken the lives of over 213 people, according to CNN. In the U.S., six individuals have been diagnosed with the virus, with the most recent case emerging from person-to-person contact in the country.

No individuals have been diagnosed with the virus in the Bay Area or Santa Clara County.

On Thursday evening, the U.S. State Department issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” warning, which is the highest possible travel advisory level.

“Commercial carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China,” the State Department website read. “Those currently in China should consider departing using commercial means.”

Additionally, Stanford Global Studies (SGS) Internship Program Manager Denise Chu informed students that the University has agreed with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations that travelers avoid all non-critical travel to China, which may result in the cancellation of several internship opportunities in China.

“In the event that we are not able to sponsor Global Studies internships in China this summer, students are advised to consider applying to positions outside of China,” Chu wrote in an email to students interested in SGS. 

She further reassured students that their safety and well-being are the University’s top priorities, and Stanford is monitoring the developing situation with respect to the spread of the virus and its potential impacts on University functions.

Stanford Health Care’s Emerging Infectious Diseases subcommittee has also been activated since the CDC alert about the coronavirus outbreak on Jan. 8. This subcommittee is working to ensure safety for Stanford’s patients and healthcare workers.

The EH&S’s report states that classes, events and other on-campus activities are continuing without interruption.

This may not be the case for all events, however. Sunday’s Lunar New Year Party, which is sponsored by the Stanford Language Center and the Stanford Confucius Institute, has recently been canceled due to concerns of the coronavirus spreading, wrote Modern Chinese lecturer Hong Zeng in an email to her students.

“I am very sorry to tell you that due to the concern of the coronavirus spreading, it has been decided to cancel our Chinese New Year Party,” Zeng said. “I feel sorry and disappointed too.”

Contact Camryn Pak cpak23 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Camryn Pak '23 is a desk editor for news. She is majoring in American Studies with a focus on Inequality, Media and the Law. Contact her at cpak23 'at' stanford.edu.