Feb. 20: Updates on Novel Coronavirus

The purpose of this page is to keep the Lehigh community informed about the public health situation relating to the Coronavirus. Check this page for ongoing updates and answers to frequently asked questions.

As of this date and time, there are NO SUSPECTED OR CONFIRMED CASES OF 2019-NOVEL CORONAVIRUS on our campus. The university's senior leadership and medical professionals in the Health and Wellness Center are continuing to monitor this situation.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Novel Coronavirus

What is the university doing to be vigilant?
We continue to work closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH), the Health Bureau of the City of Bethlehem, and local healthcare partners and are following all recommendations and guidelines for the management and well-being of our students, staff, and faculty. Given that we are in the midst of influenza (flu) season, we continue to advise the campus community to follow standard recommendations for the prevention of flu and other respiratory viruses. Additional guidance can be found below.

As noted above, the university has decided to suspend summer programs in China. This suspension will not extend to other programs abroad, including those in other parts of Asia and Pacific Rim. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide ongoing guidance to students and families as this situation evolves. We will also follow CDC recommendations to keep the campus healthy in respect to scheduled international visitors coming to our campus.

Should I participate in campus activities and events?
Individuals without any symptoms can continue to participate in campus events. The university, following guidance from the PA DOH, CDC and World Health Organization (WHO), has not canceled any activities or events due to the current 2019-novel Coronavirus concerns.

Should we be using masks?
Masks are not recommended at this time for students, staff, and faculty who are not experiencing fever or respiratory symptoms.

Will Lehigh screen every person who has recently been in China and those with whom they have been in contact?
Lehigh University is following current CDC and WHO guidelines on all screening and response protocols. These protocols may continue to evolve as new information regarding the 2019-novel Coronavirus becomes known.

What should I do if I believe I have novel Coronavirus?
These criteria have evolved. Up-to-date criteria are available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-criteria.html.

If you are a student and experiencing symptoms you believe are in line with 2019-novel Coronavirus, please consult with the Health and Wellness Center or your own physician immediately. If you have a fever or have a cough, you should remain home, and minimize your exposure to others, and call our Health and Wellness Center or your healthcare provider for additional guidance.

The university also has a strong partnership with local health care providers, such as nearby St. Luke’s University Health Network, who are available to provide emergency medical evaluation and treatment as necessary. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

The Health and Wellness Center is open Monday - Thursday, 8:15 am - 4:00 pm and Friday, 9:15 am - 4:00 pm. After hours and on weekends, please call 610-758-3870 to talk with a clinician-on-call.

Our clinical staff can assess your particular history and symptoms and make recommendations. 

Important standard recommendations to prevent the spread of respiratory infections include:

  • If you are sick - stay home and avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while you are 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 water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Get your yearly flu shot - although there is no vaccine for the 2019-novel Coronavirus, the flu shot provides critical protection against influenza.

The CDC reports symptoms of 2019-novel Coronavirus may appear in as few as two days or could take as long as 14 days after exposure. Visit the CDC website for additional guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html

The CDC recommends everyday preventative measures to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses including:

  • Get your annual flu vaccine (the Health and Wellness Center still has free flu shots).
  • 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.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What is a coronavirus? How is it transmitted?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS and SARS. When person-to-person spread has occurred with MERS and SARS, it is thought to have happened mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.

It’s important to note that how easily a virus spreads person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so.

How is the novel Coronavirus treated?
There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for 2019-nCoV infection. People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.

What if I have additional questions?
The information that exists about novel Coronavirus continues to evolve. We will continue to provide updates as we learn of them, and you can also continue to check the below resources.

Are there additional resources at Lehigh?

  • The Lehigh University Health and Wellness Center website is at https://studentaffairs.lehigh.edu/content/health-wellness-center
  • The Health and Wellness Center hours are Monday - Thursday, 8:15 am - 4:00 pm and Friday, 9:15 am - 4:00 pm. After hours and on weekends, please call 610-758-3870 to talk with a clinician-on-call. Our clinical staff can assess your particular history and symptoms and make recommendations. 
  • The Health and Wellness Center has free flu shots available for students. Call or visit the website to schedule an appointment.  
  • Staff in the Counseling Center are aware that for some students, fear and anxiety about becoming sick can disrupt sleep, studying, and finding pleasure in being with friends. They also know that sharing the thoughts and feelings associated with those concerns, with a person willing to listen, can often be quite helpful in getting back to normal routines. Counselors are available and welcome and invite students to call the center to schedule an appointment to help address their concerns, anxiety and coping.  The University Counseling Center can be reached at 610-758-3880, Mon. - Fri. 8am-5pm. Overnight on-call services are also available and students can be connected to a clinician calling this same number.
  • Information on study abroad programs and international travel can be directed to Lehigh’s Office of International Affairs at https://global.lehigh.edu/ 

Strategies to Reduce Risk of Infections:

  • Get vaccinated against the Flu! Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits, and missed work and school due to the flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Unfortunately there is no vaccine available to protect you against the viruses that cause the common cold.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Wash them for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Viruses that cause respiratory infections can live on your hands, and regular handwashing can help protect you from getting sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Viruses that cause respiratory infections can enter your body this way and make you sick.
  • Stay away from people who are sick. Sick people can spread viruses that cause these infections through close contact with others.

Strategies to Protect Others If You Have a Cold Or the Flu:

  • If you are sick with cold or flu symptoms, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine), except to get medical care or for other necessities.       
  • Avoid close contact with others, such as hugging, kissing, or shaking hands.
  • Move away from people before coughing or sneezing.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue then throw it away, or cough and sneeze into your upper shirt sleeve, completely covering your mouth and nose.
  • Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects such as keyboards and doorknobs.

Strategies to Feel Better:

  • There is no cure for a cold or the flu. To feel better, you need to get plenty of rest and drink a lot of fluids.
  • Over-the-counter medicines may help ease many symptoms.
  • If you are diagnosed with the flu, you may be prescribed antiviral medications such as Tamiflu. Antiviral drugs can make flu illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.