Novel Coronavirus FAQs

What is novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is a newly identified coronavirus that is causing an outbreak of pneumonia illness. It was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

Since then, the virus has been identified in multiple other countries, including cases in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness in people. This new virus is a public health concern because:

  • It is newly identified and so little is known about it.
  • Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have caused severe illness.

What is the risk?

The CDC considers this new virus a public health concern based on current information. However, the immediate health risk to the general U.S. public is considered low at this time. The CDC and the World Health Organization are closely monitoring the situation and providing ongoing guidance.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing.

How is it transmitted?

Person-to-person spread is occurring, although it’s unclear exactly how it is transmitted and how easily the virus spreads between people.

What if I am planning to travel to or through Wuhan or other parts of China?

The CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to Wuhan, China. Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan, including buses, subways, trains, and the airport. If you must travel:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • 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.
  • Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to Wuhan with their health care provider.

Does the College of Charleston have any programs, students or faculty in China?

The College of Charleston currently has no study abroad programs, students or faculty in China. The College itself has not issued any independent travel restrictions, but given the current guidance and directives from federal agencies, we have canceled the only CofC summer program that was scheduled to go to China in May 2020. We also continue to closely monitor developments around the world on this outbreak, and decisions regarding any of our summer programs will be made accordingly.

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for 2019-nCoV infection. (source: CDC )

Can COVID-19 be prevented?

There is no vaccine to prevent this virus, and the CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Currently, COVID-19 has not been found to be spreading in the U.S., so there are no additional precautions recommended for the general public to take at this time.

The following general actions can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • 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 should I do if I experience respiratory symptoms?

If you have symptoms of fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing and in the last 14 days you:

  • Traveled to Wuhan, or
  • Visited an affected region in China, or
  • Had close contact with someone who had traveled to an affected region in China and had respiratory symptoms.

You should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • College of Charleston students may call Student Health Services Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 843.953.5520. After hours, students can call Public Safety dispatch at 843.953.5609.
  • College of Charleston faculty and staff should contact their healthcare provider or call the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control at 843.441.1091.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel while sick. Please do not use public transportation or show up at your health care provider without an appointment or prior contact seeking guidance. CofC students should call Student Health Services at 843.953.5520 for guidance.
  • 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

What is the College’s Student Health Services doing in response to COVID-19?

Student Health Services and College of Charleston officials are coordinating with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Centers for Disease Control regarding response. Student Health Services will continue to monitor the status of the outbreak closely and screen students suspected of exposure as appropriate.

What is the CDC saying about the COVID-19?

To learn the latest from the CDC on the COVID-19, visit the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) FAQ page.