University Health Service

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Updated 2-12-2020

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What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 (formerly known as novel coronavirus 2019 or 2019-nCoV) is a newly identified coronavirus that is causing an outbreak of pneumonia illness. It was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

Since then, cases have been identified in multiple other countries including the US.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness in people. This new virus is a public health concern because:

  • It is newly identified, so much is still unknown about it.
  • Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have caused severe illness.

What is the risk?

The CDC considers this new virus a public health concern based on current information. However, the immediate health risk to the general US public is considered low at this time. The CDC and the World Health Organization are closely monitoring the situation and providing ongoing guidance. 

Symptoms and transmission:

Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing.

Person-to-person spread is occurring, although it’s unclear exactly how it is transmitted and how easily the virus spreads between people.

If you travel to/through Wuhan or other parts of China:

The US State Department and CDC recommend travelers avoid travel to China. Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan and other areas in Hubei Province, including buses, subways, trains, and the airport. If you must travel, practice the following precautions:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to Wuhan with their healthcare provider.

The university has issued travel restrictions for the entire country of China. Students who plan to study or travel abroad with U-M-sponsored programs should contact their program coordinator for updates and guidance.


People infected with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection. (source: CDC)


There is no vaccine to prevent this virus, and the CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

Currently, COVID-19 has not been found to be spreading in the US, so there are no additional precautions recommended for the general public to take. 

Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

See also Take Care of Yourself and Your Fellow Wolverines!

Recommendations for people with respiratory symptoms:

If you have symptoms of fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing and in the last 14 days:

  • You traveled to/through Wuhan, OR
  • You visited another affected region in China, OR 
  • You had close contact with someone who had traveled to an affected region in China and had respiratory symptoms

You should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. 
    • U-M students and other UHS patients may call UHS at 734-764-8320, day or night.
    • Others may contact their health care provider or call the Washtenaw County Health Department at 734-544-6700.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick. Please do not get on public transportation or just arrive at UHS. Call instead (734-764-8320). UHS offers advice by phone day or night, to help save students (and other UHS patients) a trip to UHS or the emergency department.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available

What is University Health Service doing about COVID-19?

UHS is coordinating with Washtenaw County Public Health, Michigan Medicine, the Provost Office, Global Michigan (see U-M Travel Warnings and Restrictions), the International Center, and other university stakeholders regarding response. UHS and Michigan Medicine have implemented additional screening for recent international travelers. 

For more information: