Stanford University is restricting all travel to China to prevent a spread of the coronavirus epidemic and is requiring anyone who has traveled to the country to quarantine themselves for 14 days before they attend classes or on-campus activities.
The restrictions and quarantine requirements were made and updated in announcements on Jan. 24 and 30 through the university's Occupational Health Center. They follow the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention's warnings regarding travel to and from mainland China.
The country is in the throes of an outbreak of a new form of coronavirus, which has thus far sickened nearly 10,000 people and killed more than 200, according to the CDC. The disease, which is believed to have spread from an animal or wildlife marketplace in Wuhan, China, has now infected people in every part of China and is spreading to other countries, including parts of Europe. Seven cases have been confirmed in the U.S. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing, which can lead to pneumonia.
"Stanford is working closely with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and in line with recommendations from the CDC. We are actively monitoring the developing situation with respect to the spread of the disease and potential impacts to university functions," the university said.
On Friday, the Public Health Department announced the first confirmed case of coronavirus, better known as "novel coronavirus," in a county resident who returned from China on Jan. 24 and immediately fell ill, public health leaders said. The man, who isolated himself in his home since his return, received outpatient care and didn't require hospitalization, public health leaders said.
Also on Friday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar declared a public health emergency regarding the infection.
Stanford spokesman E.J. Miranda said in an email that the university would continue to require the 14-day stay-at-home period. Only the county's health officer has the authority to require mandatory isolation, however, he noted.
Requests for travel exceptions must be fielded by a university vice president, provost or dean and then forwarded to the Provost's Office, the university said.
Employees who traveled to China have been instructed to notify their supervisor and to call the Occupational Health Center for a phone consultation appointment with a physician. Students returning from China are being instructed to contact the Vaden Health Center for a phone consultation. The date of return to work or class will be determined after the medical review, university leaders said.
Supervisors are also being encouraged to adopt flexible work arrangements by allowing employees to telecommute and teleconference from their home while in self-quarantine.
Stanford classes, events and other campus activities are continuing without interruption, but the university has recommendations for groups hosting events.
"For groups hosting events: Events requiring incoming travelers from mainland China should be reconsidered. Given challenges with travel to and from mainland China, including flight cancellations and critical infrastructure disruption, strong consideration should be given to postpone events where visitors are required to travel from mainland China.
"For all events, all attendees should self-monitor for fever, cough, and other symptoms and stay home or isolate if ill. Anyone arriving from mainland China should refrain from attending campus events until 14 days have passed since their departure from China," the university said.
Stanford's Public Health Policy Committee directs various public health issues including the university's response to the novel coronavirus. Multiple departments, including the Department of Emergency Management; the Department of Public Safety; Land, Buildings & Real Estate; Office of Student Affairs; Residential & Dining Enterprises; SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; the Occupational Health Center; the School of Medicine and Vaden Health Center and others are involved in coordinating the response.
Stanford Health Care, which operates Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, is working closely with Santa Clara County and the CDC, spokeswoman Lisa Kim said in an email.
"As soon as the CDC sent an alert about the outbreak, Stanford Health Care's Emerging Infectious Diseases subcommittee was activated. The subcommittee, along with the Stanford Health Care Infection Prevention & Control Department, relies on information from the CDC, World Health Organization, and County and State Public Health Departments to maintain the most current information and recommendations. They also provide guidelines for screening of patients and procedures for healthcare workers to follow should a patient require isolation, and to ensure patient and healthcare worker safety.
"With standard protocols in place at all times and working closely with our local and national government health agencies to update protocols as necessary, Stanford Health Care is well-prepared to care for patients with symptoms of 2019 Novel Coronavirus," she said in a statement released by the hospital.
Information on the 2019 novel coronavirus is available on Stanford Health Care's website.