Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

The Novel Coronavirus (or 2019-nCoV), recently discovered in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, has caused more than 300 cases of pneumonia worldwide. As of today, two cases in the U.S. have been documented in patients who visited Wuhan City. In an effort to increase awareness and prevention of this disease, we are sharing the following information:

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that generally circulate among animals. On occasion, they evolve, infect people, and spread. Two other examples are the causative agents of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). With SARS, MERS, and the Novel Coronavirus, an organism is thought to be transmitted via respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes near a person in close contact (similar to how a flu virus is transmitted). In the case of the Novel Coronavirus, there appears to be limited spread from person to person. Since this is a new disease, limited epidemiological information is available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider this to be a very serious public health threat, but based on current information, the immediate health risk to the general American public is considered low. Passengers coming to the U.S. from Wuhan City are being evaluated at airports nationwide, including JFK in New York. The CDC advises people to avoid nonessential travel to Wuhan City, China at this time.

Symptoms can result from infections of the upper or lower respiratory tract, including runny nose, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, coughing, fever, and pneumonia. If you have any of these symptoms and have been traveling or in contact with someone who has been in the Asia-Pacific region, it is recommended that you seek medical attention immediately.

Treatment and Prevention
Novel Coronavirus pneumonia is caused by a virus. Therefore, there are no cures, and antibiotics are ineffective. Medical treatment consists of rest, fluids, and supportive care. Vaccines are the only preventive measure for viruses, and unfortunately, the development of a vaccine takes a considerable amount of time. Accordingly, the most effective strategy for prevention is limiting the exposure to 2019-nCoV. General precautions to avoid becoming infected or spreading the virus include:
  • Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoiding travelling and contact with others when you are sick.
The physicians and staff at New York Institute of Technology’s Academic Health Centers are available to assist those who are not feeling well. If you have traveled to China in the past 14 days and have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, please call and tell us (or your health care provider) about your recent travel and symptoms. We can be reached at 516.686.1300.


Brian L. Harper M.D., M.P.H.
Chief Medical Officer, NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine