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Important Updates on Coronavirus

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

Harvard University continues to monitor the evolving outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (now called COVID-19) centered in China. Although there are no reported cases on our campus, Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) and partners across the University meet regularly to coordinate preparations to respond swiftly should a case present within the community. Since our last communication on this matter on February 2, we are issuing the following updated guidance for the Harvard community.

Advice for travel and programming in China

University-related travel to mainland China remains strongly discouraged until further notice. If you were planning to participate in an activity in China during spring recess, you should check with organizers as soon as possible to learn whether alternative arrangements have been made. For those planning programs and travel abroad in the upcoming months, please be aware that this is an evolving situation to which Harvard, public health officials, and government agencies are responding in real time. Government agencies as well as Harvard may impose new requirements as needed, so please make your travel plans with appropriate flexibility.

Until further notice, University travel to mainland China requires approval from the Provost. If you believe that exceptional circumstances warrant your travel there, please contact the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs ( When University travel restrictions are lifted, we will email the community and post the information on the HUHS and Harvard Global Support Services (GSS) websites.

Effective February 2, the U.S. government restricted inbound travel from mainland China. American citizens and lawful permanent residents who visited or transited through China in the past 14 days are subject to screenings and may be required to submit to a 14-day quarantine or self-isolation. With limited exceptions, immigrants and nonimmigrants arriving from China, including those who have passed through Chinese ports, are not permitted entry into the United States until further notice. If you do not hold a U.S. passport, please exercise prudence in making travel plans in the coming weeks.

Advice for travel and programming in the region

To this point, the COVID-19 outbreak has been concentrated in China, but the number of reported cases outside China is growing. We strongly encourage anyone traveling to the region or anywhere abroad to register your travel in International SOS MyTrips and to review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) country-specific travel health notices for advice. You should also check with your airlines and embassies, as government authorities in Asia and elsewhere have imposed restrictions on air travelers arriving not only from mainland China but also from Hong Kong and Macau. Some of these restrictions apply to transit passengers. For more travel guidance, please visit the Harvard GSS website.

For those who have recently returned from China

All Harvard University affiliates currently in mainland China, or who have returned from mainland China on or after January 19, 2020, should complete this confidential health form so that HUHS can provide you with assistance and advice. If you have already completed the form for your most recent travel from China, we thank you. You do not need to fill it out again.

Faculty and supervisors: please be flexible

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 post-doctoral fellows, who might be affected.

Protect yourself from viral illness

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

Be respectful of others

You may see people on campus wearing face masks. Although we do not recommend widespread use of face masks for asymptomatic people outside clinical settings, please remember that it is a social norm in many countries to wear a face mask during cold and flu season. Do not assume that a person wearing a face mask is infectious, or that they should be avoided. Treating all members of our community with respect and consideration is as important now as at any other time.

We will continue to send periodic updates and refresh the HUHS coronavirus webpage 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