University provides coronavirus update

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

"In January 2020, a new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was identified as the cause of an outbreak of pneumonia originating in Wuhan, China," writes Sandra Banks, vice-president, university relations in a memo circulated to campus yesterday afternoon. "The situation is rapidly evolving and Campus WellnessRegion of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency ServicesPublic Health Ontario, along with the Ministry of Health, is closely monitoring the outbreak."

"The risk to Ontarians is still considered low."

"The University has a pandemic plan as part of its emergency response plan. Stakeholders from across campus are already meeting to monitor and respond to the current situation and we will continue to issue communication to keep the campus community aware of the latest developments."

Coronavirus symptoms and prevention

Symptoms of 2019-nCoV include fever, a dry cough within two to seven days of infection, mild difficulty breathing, body aches, and gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea.

"As a precaution, UWaterloo Health Services has updated its triage protocols in the campus Health Services," says the vice-president's memo. "As a result, Health Services staff will ask patients about recent travel and respiratory symptoms upon entering the health centre and may be asked to wear a face mask depending on their answers. Health Services has also advised patients and campus through its website to take sanitary precautions."

Precautions include:

  • covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • frequent washing of hands
  • avoid contacting with others who are sick
  • avoid touching your face.

Vice-President Banks invites managers and instructors to share this messaging with their teams and students to reassure them that according to the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada that the risk to Canada and Canadian travelers is currently considered low.

The University will continue to provide updates on the Campus Wellness website. The University’s official Twitter account and the Daily Bulletin will also share messaging.

"We also recommend that you download the WatSAFE app on your device and the WatSAFE Desktop Notification tool on your desktop/laptop to receive emergency messages," says the vice-president's memo. "Visit the WatSAFE website for more details." 

"University officials will continue to monitor Global Affairs Canada travel advisories and will be in contact with public health officials as this situation continues to unfold," says Banks's memo. "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. You can also register all international travel with the Safety Abroad Team at to access travel safety information, emergency assistance and access to various services provided by Anvil Group."

If you have questions or concerns, please email If you feel unwell, please contact your family doctor or call 519-888-4096 or visit the Health Services building to book an appointment.

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