How UC Berkeley is preparing for coronavirus

Anna Harte, M.D., medical director of University Health Services; Marc Fisher, vice chancellor for administration, Stephen C. Sutton, vice chancellor for student affairs, sent the following message to the campus community. It was updated on Friday, Jan. 31, to reflect that a case of corona virus has been confirmed in Santa Clara County. 

We are writing to provide an update on the coronavirus (2019-nCoV), and campus response and preparedness efforts.

University Health Services (UHS),working in partnership with local public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), continues to monitor the situation closely and take steps to help ensure the health and safety of the campus community.

There are several cases in the United States, including one in Santa Clara County and a few in Southern California. Most of the infections, thousands at this point, have occurred in China, including outside Wuhan, China.

While this coronavirus is understandably causing worry and anxiety, particularly in those returning from or with family in affected areas in China, the CDC currently believes the risk of the virus to the U.S. general public is low.

On campus, we are following all health protocols prescribed by the CDC and reinforced by state, county and city health officials. The CDC does not currently recommend isolation of travelers returning from affected areas if they do not have symptoms.  And as a community, we should be aware that this is an especially difficult time for Chinese students with family in the Wuhan area. To support the well-being of our students and the campus community, information and support resources may be helpful.

For individuals who recently returned from Wuhan, China please see our FAQ  for the latest health recommendations.

University Health Services officials have set up screening procedures for individuals who come to the Tang Center who are at high risk and are showing symptoms. Such individuals are moved immediately into a private room and evaluated in coordination with the public health department to see if they meet CDC criteria for testing and isolation. Senior campus leaders have been meeting to oversee and to help coordinate campus preparedness and response efforts. The UC Office of the President is also working to ensure close collaboration and communication among UC campuses.

Information and precautions for the general public

The best ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the flu and other respiratory viruses are to:

  • 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; if you must be out and about, consider wearing a paper (“surgical”) mask and avoid close contact with others.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, cough into your sleeve (not your hands).

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Academic Information

We are encouraging instructors to support students who have been advised to stay home, by helping them meet their academic obligations through alternatives to classroom-based learning. For students and instructors, details on policies for accommodations can be found here. 

We will continue to update the UC Berkeley community regarding the coronavirus as developments occur.  Additional information can be found at the links below: