Coronavirus updates from NYU

February 05, 2020

2019 Novel Coronavirus

The University has been closely following an emerging public health situation regarding an outbreak of pneumonia caused by a novel strain of coronavirus, 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), in Wuhan, China.

The safety and health of NYU's students, faculty, administrators, and staff are the top concern for all the University's leadership. The new illness has been a focus of attention across NYU's global network since it first emerged, and we have assembled a team involving multiple University offices to monitor, plan, and respond.

A "novel coronavirus" is a strain that has not previously been found in humans. This coronavirus can lead to fever, cough, and shortness of breath. 

What to Know

  • There are currently no identified cases in the NYU community, including NYU Shanghai. There are also no identified cases in New York City at this time.
  • On January 30, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency. This acknowledges that, while the coronavirus was initially seen to be a risk primarily in China, it is now of serious concern beyond its borders and calls for a coordinated international response. The number of cases outside China is still quite small, however.
  • In response, the U.S. government has issued a travel advisory warning against all travel to China.
  • NYU Student Health Center staff are working closely with Global staff and Public Safety staff, as well as local and state resources, to monitor the situation and protect the health and well-being of the NYU community. NYU’s health response is in line with the most up-to-date guidance from city, state, and federal health agencies.
  • For a summary of academic and health information related to the coronavirus, see communication from NYU president Andrew Hamilton and Dr. Carlo Ciotoli, Executive Director of the Student Health Center.
  • The World Health Organization continues to meet on this situation. We will provide updated information based on the outcome of these meetings.
  • CDC has updated its travel health notice and now recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China.


What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses such as the common cold, and more severe illnesses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).  Coronaviruses commonly circulate in animals and sometimes infect humans. The coronavirus under investigation, 2019-Coronavirus, is believed to have originated from animals. While the mode of transmission remains unclear, person-to person transmission is occurring.

What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?
Symptoms related to the novel coronavirus under investigation ( 2019-nCoV ) include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia and other complications, especially in infants, older individuals, and in those with underlying health conditions.

How do I prevent coronavirus?
While there is still much that is unknown about this virus, we know what we can do to reduce our risk for infection:

  • Wash your hands often, especially after you’ve touched someone who is sick, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • If you have cold and cough symptoms, make sure to cover your coughs and sneezes by using the crook of your arm or using disposable tissues and disposing of them in the trash 

Should I wear a mask so I don't catch the virus?
The protective value of wearing a surgical mask is limited, and no health agencies are currently recommending general wearing of a surgical mask to avoid contracting 2019-nCoV. Masks can help in the following way: if you are starting to experience symptoms, wearing a mask can help to prevent you from spreading illness to others. For instance, if you start experiencing symptoms of a respiratory illness (coughing, sneezing, congestion, etc.) and are coming to the Student Health Center to be evaluated, we recommend that you wear a mask (masks are available in residence halls for this purpose).

I’m sick, how do I know if it's coronavirus or something else, like the flu?
Coronavirus symptoms and flu symptoms are similar. The majority of the cases of the illness have occurred in and around the city of Wuhan in China.  If you have not been to the area of the outbreak, chances are you might have the flu. If you have symptoms of fever, cough and body aches and are feeling concerned, call 212-443-1000 and ask to speak to a nurse. 

If you recently traveled to/from Wuhan and have a fever and cough or shortness of breath, 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. NYU students can call 212-443-1000 and ask to speak to a nurse.
  • Stay home. Except for seeking medical care, avoid contact with others.
  • Avoid further travel until the illness resolves.
  • Wear a mask if you need to leave your home when sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

The news of the coronavirus seems very dire, and it’s left me feeling anxious. Where can I turn for help?

  • As of yet, there are no cases of infection of coronavirus anywhere in the NYU community, nor have there been any cases identified in New York City.
  • Concerns about a new and unfamiliar illness are understandable.
  • If you are feeling anxious or uneasy, please don’t hesitate to turn to the Wellness Exchange at (212) 443-9999, chat via the Wellness Exchange app (iPhone or Android) anytime, make an appointment, stop by during drop-in hours or email  

Additional Resources