Important Update - Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

In January 2020, a new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was identified as the cause of an outbreak of pneumonia originating in Wuhan, China. The situation is rapidly evolving and UWaterloo Health Services, Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services, Public Health Ontario, along with the Ministry of Health, is closely monitoring the outbreak, conducting surveillance and appropriate laboratory testing, and providing public health and infection control guidance. There are no direct flights from Wuhan, China to international airports in Ontario. The risk to Ontario is currently considered low.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that originate in animals but are known to cause respiratory illness in humans, particularly during the fall and winter months. Other novel coronaviruses have included Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV).

At UWaterloo Health Services, we routinely screen all students seen in the medical clinics for recent travel and mask and follow other precautions for anyone with potentially infectious respiratory symptoms, no matter where they have been. 

This situation is evolving rapidly, and our website will be updated with significant development along with campus messaging when appropriate. For now, we follow Public Health Agency of Canada and local public health department recommendations by advising you to:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Frequently, and certainly after sneezing or before/after touching your face or a sick person.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid contact with others who are sick and do not travel while sick. 

Public Health Ontario and the Ministry of Health are developing guidance specific to 2019-nCoV. In the interim, additional information about the evolving situation can be found on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website.

We encourage anyone travelling to or from China to visit the federal source of destination-specific travel information that provides important advice to help travellers make informed decisions and travel safely while abroad.

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