FAQ: Novel coronavirus


What is coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus that can cause a wide range of illnesses, from the common cold to severe pneumonia. The novel (or Wuhan) coronavirus at the center of the current epidemic has been named nCoV-2019 and is a new strain of coronavirus.

What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms of the novel coronavirus are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. 

How is the virus spread?
It is spread through direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets, similar to a cold or the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), person-to-person spread of this coronavirus is most likely to occur with close contact, or contact within six feet, with an infected person who coughs or sneezes.

Have there been any cases of novel coronavirus in Philadelphia or at Temple?
As of Feb. 7, there have been no cases of novel coronavirus at any campus of Temple University in the U.S. or abroad, or in Philadelphia.

How can someone prevent contracting coronavirus, the flu or other respiratory illnesses?
Avoid close contact with individuals who present symptoms. Wash your hands frequently and efficiently. When unable to wash with soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid sharing food and drinks or participating in other activities that may result in exposure to saliva or secretions. Avoid sharing devices like smartphones. Arrange for delivery of food and groceries.

Those who are showing symptoms are encouraged to cover their mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; use an upper sleeve to cover a cough, not your hand. Most importantly, anyone who is ill and has recently traveled to mainland China or has come into contact with someone who is ill and recently traveled to mainland China should call their doctor or, for Temple students and employees, contact Student Health Services or Employee Health Services immediately.

If you are sick with the flu or another illness, you should stay home and avoid contact with others as long as you have symptoms.

What’s the treatment for coronavirus?
There is currently no medication to treat or prevent coronavirus. Like many viruses, steps may be taken to manage symptoms caused by coronavirus. Those who have become severely ill with the novel coronavirus have been hospitalized to receive care.

Should I be concerned if I or someone I know recently traveled to China?
Currently, all American citizens and lawful permanent residents traveling to the United States from China are being directed to one of 11 airports where health screenings are being conducted. Those who have returned from China and have not shown any symptoms of illness are monitored for 14 days, at which point they are cleared if they do not develop any symptoms. The incubation period—or period between virus exposure and symptom development—for the novel coronavirus is estimated at one to 12.5 days, with the majority of symptoms developing within about a week of exposure. So, for example, if someone traveled from China in early- to mid-January and has not gotten sick, they are highly unlikely to have the novel coronavirus.


What is Temple doing to ensure the health of the university community?
Per U.S. Department of State guidelines, Temple University has suspended all university-affiliated travel to mainland China for students, faculty and staff until further notice. On Feb. 2, 2020, the State Department issued a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory for China due to the spread of the coronavirus. Read more about the State Department’s travel advisory.

The CDC has also issued a recommendation that people defer travel to China. 

Temple issued memos regarding the suspension of university-affiliated travel to China on Jan. 30 and Feb. 3. University administrators and health officials are closely monitoring the outbreak and will communicate any significant updates to the university community. Travel advisories are also updated regularly on Temple’s website.  

We are closely monitoring this evolving situation and are in frequent contact with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.  

Where can I find more information?
More information is available in this Q&A with a Temple University Hospital infectious disease physician and a faculty member from the College of Public Health who specializes in epidemiology. For additional information, visit the CDC’s novel coronavirus page and the World Health Organization’s novel coronavirus site

Temple students (215-204-7500) and employees (215-204-2679) are encouraged to call Temple Student and Employee Health Services with additional questions or comments.