Dear Members of the Harvard Community,
Harvard University has been closely monitoring the evolving novel coronavirus outbreak that is centered in China. To date, there are no confirmed cases in Massachusetts.
However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reclassified China to “Level 3: Avoid Non-Essential Travel.” Likewise, the U.S. Department of State has issued a “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” advisory for China and issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” warning for Hubei province. In order to protect the health and safety of our community at home and abroad, and in accordance with the CDC and State Department guidance, we are issuing the following guidance for the Harvard community:
1. We strongly discourage travel to China until further notice. If you believe that exceptional circumstances warrant your travel to China in the next 30 days, please contact the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please be aware that your travel may be disrupted by restrictions in China that are beyond your control.
2. If you are currently in China, follow the guidance of local health authorities. Avoid contact with people who are ill, avoid animals and animal markets, and wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. If you feel ill, call International SOS at +1-617-998-0000 or connect through the Assistance App. ISOS can provide advice and direct you to appropriate medical resources. Additional information is available from the CDC, which is monitoring this situation actively.
3. If you were in China in the last 14 days and have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, please call Harvard University Health Services (HUHS, 617-495-5711) or your personal healthcare provider immediately and inform your clinician about your symptoms and your travel history.
At this time, CDC guidance does not require screenings or clearance for individuals arriving from China beyond the screenings currently being conducted at US ports of entry, including Logan airport. That could change, of course, as the situation evolves, and Harvard may need to impose conditions on travelers returning to campus if warranted by changing circumstances.
As always, remember to register your international travel with International SOS MyTrips. Registration provides access to alerts and facilitates your access to emergency medical and security assistance if you need it during your travel.
We recognize the anxiety and emotional strain that these circumstances may place on all of us. If you’d 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.
In addition, even as we take the precautions outlined in this letter, let us remember that the likelihood that any particular individual is infected with the coronavirus is very low. Simple measures such as washing hands regularly and other precautions outlined in HUHS’s January 24 message to the Harvard community help prevent transmission of respiratory illnesses like coronavirus.
In consultation with colleagues around the University, HUHS will continue to monitor the spread of this novel coronavirus and will send updates periodically. In the meantime, we will regularly update the HUHS website and encourage you to check it for additional information.
Alan M. Garber AB ’77, PhD ’82
Giang T. Nguyen
Executive Director, Harvard University Health Services