OWU launches coronavirus education team

Maddie Matos

Transcript correspondent


The coronavirus, which has infected 28,000 people – an increase of 35 percent since Monday – and killed 563 in China, appeared to draw closer to home last week, a fact not lost on the Ohio Wesleyan campus.

And the Ohio Department of Health said yesterday it is testing for another possible case of the virus in Ohio, but it won’t say where, according to the Columbus Dispatch.  At least 12 people around the U.S. have tested positive for the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials had quarantined and tested two students from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, who had traveled to China recently. The results for both students were negative, but OWU organized a team to keep a close eye on potential problems, although there are no indications anyone here has been infected, OWU President Rock Jones said.

“Sean Bolender, director of public safety, is leading a team of individuals from across campus in monitoring this situation and ensuring we are fully prepared if the virus arrives on campus,” Jones said.

The campus team is teaching students and staff about the virus and how to minimize risk, Jones said.

Doug Koyle, the associate dean for student success, in an email sent across campus Tuesday reiterated that no confirmed cases exist in Ohio and while the risk is low, the virus continues to spread “making it important to understand more about the potentially fatal condition.”

In an earlier email on Jan. 30 and the most recent note, Koyle pointed out the flu and coronavirus have similar symptoms, which include a fever, cough or other respiratory illness, a sore throat, runny nose and body aches.

“The most important difference is a person’s risk of exposure,” Koyle wrote. “To be diagnosed with the coronavirus, people must have – within 14 days of developing symptoms – either have traveled from Wuhan City, China, or have had close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed coronavirus.”

Close contact is within 6 feet of, or the same room as, a coronavirus patient for a prolonged period, or having direct contact with the patient’s bodily fluids, including coughs and sneezes, without having protective gear, Koyle said.

The U.S. has temporarily barred travel to China, which has locked down an unprecedented 50 million people in the province of Hubei.

The campus community is urged to call the Student Health Center or any other local health facility first if they suspect they or someone else may have the virus to give medical staff time to prepare to avoid unnecessary exposure. The health center phone number is 740-368-3160 and its hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

More information can be found on the CDC website.