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Important Updates on Coronavirus

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

Harvard University continues to closely monitor the evolving 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) outbreak centered in China. Since our last communication on this matter, there has been one confirmed case in Massachusetts: a student at the University of Massachusetts Boston who had recently returned from Wuhan, the epicenter of the current epidemic. This student was self-identified early, has not participated in UMass Boston activities since arrival from China, and will remain in isolation until cleared by health authorities. In addition, since our last communication, the U.S. Department of State has raised its travel advisory for mainland China to “Level 4 – Do Not Travel” and has placed major restrictions on incoming travelers from China.

With these circumstances in mind, we are issuing the following updated guidance for the Harvard community:

  • All Harvard University affiliates currently in China or who have returned from China since January 19, 2020 should complete this health form so that Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) can provide you with assistance and advice if necessary. The information you provide is secure and confidential.
  • If you were in China and returned to the U.S. on January 18, 2020 or earlier, and you show no signs of fever, coughing, or difficulty breathing, no further action is necessary.
  • University-related travel to China remains postponed until further notice. If you believe that highly exceptional circumstances warrant travel to China before the end of February, please contact the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs (

his is an evolving situation to which Harvard, public health officials, and government agencies are responding in real time, and Harvard may impose new requirements if warranted by changing circumstances.

We ask our faculty colleagues to be as flexible as possible in accommodating students who are affected by this outbreak, and supervisors to be similarly accommodating with staff, including postdocs, who might be affected.

We recognize that events like these can cause anxiety and emotional strain. If you would like to speak with a counselor or a mental health professional, contact Counseling and Mental Health Services (for students) or Harvard’s Employee Assistance Program (for faculty and staff).

Please be sure to take the same reasonable precautions that we use to prevent the spread of all viral illnesses: practice good hand hygiene, don’t share food/drinks etc., avoid close contact with others if you feel sick, and cover your cough/sneeze.

We emphasize that treating every member of our community with care and respect is of principal importance, especially during trying times like these. No member or segment of our community is at fault for this outbreak, and the risk that any particular individual is infected remains low. We maintain our commitment to treating every member of our community with dignity and respect.

In consultation with colleagues around the University, HUHS will continue to monitor the spread of this novel coronavirus, send periodic updates, and refresh its website with information as it becomes available.


Alan M. Garber AB ’77, PhD ’82, MD

Giang T. Nguyen MD, MPH, MSCE, FAAFP
Executive Director, Harvard University Health Services