NSU preps for coronavirus

Keator Poleman

Digital Editor

Amid growing concerns over the coronavirus’ spread and in partnership with local, state and federal health departments, NSU Health Services released a detailed notice informing the Northwestern State University community about the deadly virus.

The coronavirus, responsible for the deaths of over 3,000 individuals, is continuing to sweep across the world. Its effects have reached the U.S., where six deaths have been confirmed.

Symptoms for the coronavirus, the document reads, are flu like and may be mild in severity. The symptoms include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing.

The Health Services’ document recommends those who have experienced the symptoms listed above 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.
  • Call Health Services at 318-357-5351 if on campus or contact your primary care provider. 
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • 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

Health Services are available to provide advice by phone between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 7:30 a.m. – noon on Friday, the notice said.

Carla Walker, director of Health Services, said, in the event of an outbreak, the university’s administration could close all campuses and possibly make all courses online for a period of time.

She said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking the general public to not buy masks for preventative measures at this time. Since many cautious members of the public are buying masks, health care workers are having trouble finding needed materials, she said.

“From what I understand from student housing, we do have the capability of housing or quarantining some students if needed,” Walker said.

She sent out a request through Student Messenger Tuesday asking the campus community to help donate supplies. The request asks for alcohol based hand sanitizers and antibacterial wipes.

Donations can be dropped off at either Health Services or the NSU Food Pantry.

The university will release more information as it becomes available, the notice added.

The University of Louisiana System’s Board of Supervisors addressed the virus during its meeting at Northwestern State University on Feb. 28.

ULS President Dr. Jim Henderson said the system is preparing for any possible outbreak in the state.

He said ULS universities may need to house members from different schools in the event of an outbreak, comparing it to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Coronavirus is a respiratory virus. Some ways to avoid spreading said viruses include:

  • 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

The CDC has not yet identified an antiviral treatment for the coronavirus but said supportive care can be used to relieve symptoms.

Those with a high risk of catching the illness include those who have either traveled to and or encountered someone who has been to China or who have met someone with the virus.

As of now, no NSU study abroad programs have been cancelled due to the virus. Instead, Karen Walker, assistant professor of child and family studies, had to change her class’ trip to Ireland this semester due to low enrollment.

Weiwen Liao, assistant professor in the school of business, said a trip to China had been planned for the spring 2020 semester, but it was cancelled prior to the virus’ outbreak.

Liao is from Changsha, Hunan Province, China. The province borders Hubei Province, which is where the epicenter of the coronavirus, Wuhan, is located.

Liao’s family still resides in Hunan, including her father, brother and sister-in-law. Liao described conversations she had with former classmates on the social media platform WeChat.

She said some members of the group expressed dissatisfaction with the Chinese government’s handling of the situation, while others were encouraging.

Her group’s site was eventually shut down by WeChat due to the dissatisfaction, she said. Those of the group living in China were blocked from seeing any messages.

However, a new group was later formed and with many of the same members, she added.

Liao said Dr. Li Wenliang is the doctor famous for whistleblowing about the virus in its early stages.

Wenliang spread information about the virus over WeChat before he was eventually forced to sign a letter stating he would not attempt to divulge any more information, Liao said.

Liao said while Wenliang continued to work towards helping fight the virus, he caught the coronavirus and died on Feb. 7.

Sadie LeComte

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