As the situation related to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, first identified in Wuhan, China, in December, continues to develop, we remain in close contact with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NHDHHS) and are closely monitoring advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We have received a new health advisory from NHDHHS and would like to remind you of what we already know and update you with the most current guidance for members of the Dartmouth community.
Late last week, the U.S. Department of State elevated its China travel advisory to Level 4: Do Not Travel and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency. There are also restrictions beginning today for individuals who have recently been in China, including a temporary ban on entry into the United States for foreign nationals who have been to mainland China in the last 14 days (other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents).
Consistent with the most recent NHDHHS health advisory, Dartmouth community members should take the following steps:
1. All individuals who have traveled to locations in China within the last 14 days, even those without symptoms, should "self-isolate" for a period of 14 days from their last day of travel to China, and monitor themselves for fever and respiratory illness (such as cough or shortness of breath). "Self-isolation" includes avoiding public settings and any further travel. If travelers do develop fever or respiratory illness within 14 days of their departure from China, they should contact the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services at 603-271-4496.
2. All individuals who have traveled to locations in Hubei Province, China, within the last 14 days, even if they are without symptoms, should self-isolate as noted above AND contact the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services at 603-271-4496 for more active monitoring by state public health officials.
3. NHDHHS has recommended that all health care clinic receptions and providers screen patients presenting with a fever or respiratory illness to find out whether the patient has traveled to anywhere in China. They will also screen patients for known close contact with a person confirmed to have 2019-nCoV infection in the 14 days before their symptoms started. This screening has been in place at Dartmouth College Health Service/Dick's House and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for the past week.
Dartmouth fully supports the guidance received from NHDHHS, and encourages people who have recently returned from China and are self-isolating to be in contact with their supervisors to arrange to be able to work remotely during this period.
During this difficult time, it is important to remember that no one is at fault for spreading or contracting the coronavirus. Our community will maintain our commitment to treating and caring for affected individuals with dignity and respect. The risk of contracting this virus remains very low.