By: Jessica Hernandez Blanco
There is a new disease threatening global health.
Known as the coronavirus, this illness originates from China and has spread around the world rather quickly. There are 43,103 confirmed cases in 25 countries. So far, 1,017 people have died in China and one person was reported dead in the Philippines.
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are nothing new. They are a large family of viruses that cause different respiratory symptoms that range from being like the common cold to other more severe ailments.
However, the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a recent strand that can cause severe respiratory problems. It can also lead to death.
As the 2019 novel coronavirus infection progresses, the authorities in several countries have been on the alert and have implemented internal policies toward the entry and departures of travelers to China.
In the United States, there are 12 confirmed cases in Washington, California, Arizona, Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin and Massachusetts and all have been coupled with a travel history to China.
The U.S government has issued a Level 3 travel warning advisory level due to the outbreak of the disease, advising residents “to avoid non-essential travel.”
How can this disease affect the Barry community and what are the possible preventative measures?
Although the coronavirus is not present in Florida, Barry’s comprehensive emergency management plan (CEMP) communicated to staff and students that they would be monitoring the coronavirus’ progression.
They also re-introduced the university’s communicable disease and travel abroad policy that details information on infectious diseases that can prove lethal. This policy admonishes students to report any illness experienced while travelling within eight weeks of their return to the service health center at Barry. Barry employees must report their illnesses to the human resources department.
The Buccaneer contacted Barry’s student health services director, Ms. Eileen Egan-Hineline to comment on the coronavirus’s impact. She explained that, although the new virus is an important matter in the world, the risk factor is relatively low for Florida.
“There is no concern at this time in the state of Florida for anyone about coronavirus,” said Egan-Hineline.
Junior Barry student Michelle Gonzales who majors in biology agrees with Egan-Hineline's comment of non-urgency pertaining to the coronavirus.
“At the moment I am not too concerned about coronavirus given that I have not heard much about an outbreak in the area where I live in, but it is important to remain cautious about everything,” Gonzales said.
Nonetheless, other Barry students consider the coronavirus a huge concern for them.
Sophomore biology major Jose Manuel Cintron Garcia explains why it is important to be on high alert with the coronavirus.
“The coronavirus is not a new discovery, but we are facing new strains of it,” said Garcia. “As with many others [viruses], it is frequently mutating and creating resistance.” he added.
Egan-Hineline recommends that if Barry students want to take preventative measures, they should avoid coronavirus transmission during spring break by being aware of the travel advisories and choosing destinations where the virus is not present.
She also shared that people should be worried about the upcoming flu season, which is not of less importance than the coronavirus and has a higher mortality rate.
Around 24 percent of patients that have visited the health service center at Barry since last January have had respiratory issues associated with cold, flu, and others. Barry’s healthcare center administered 40 more flu shots last year.
Although flu incidents on campus are very low, Egan-Hineline calls everyone on campus to take their flu shots no matter the health care provider.
Finally, to avoid getting sick on campus, Egan-Hineline recommends the Barry community to follow good health habits.
“Wash your hands. I cannot stress that enough. It is not a quick dip under the water. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds at a minimum,” said Egan-Hineline. “Whether it is the cold or flu, try not to spread it.”
The coronavirus is an important international matter. Our biggest concern at Barry is maintaining a healthy environment, whether it is a new virus or an existing one.