MIDDLETOWN - Wesleyan University says that a student has been placed 'in isolation' after returning from Asia and presenting with symptoms that could possibly be signs of 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, the viral illness recently identified in an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. It is a member of the coronavirus family that's a close cousin to the deadly SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.
In a statement, Wesleyan officials said:
No diagnosis has been made. Out of an abundance of caution, we are working with the state Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control to determine if the student (who was traveling internationally in Asia and presented with a fever and cough) has contracted the coronavirus or not.
The student is in isolation, and we are providing healthcare and other services. We have been in touch with everyone with whom the student had close contact since returning to campus in order to monitor them. To date, none of these individuals have exhibited symptoms of concern.
In an email sent to students and obtained by FOX61, Wesleyan's Medical Director said the student "was at a large international airport where another person was identified to have the coronavirus."
Reactions on campus were mixed, with some expressing concerns, and others not so worried.
Junior Nicole Adabunu said “I just hope the student is okay, I know our school is monitoring it really closely, so I’m not that worried I just hope everyone is healthy and safe.”
“Honestly there is not a lot of y’all about it," said freshman Allegra Green. "We all just came back from break so we are just trying to relax and get back in the groove of things."
Senior Jessi Russell said, “I’m not too worried because it’s predominantly going to affect the older populations as well as younger kids as most diseases do because they're more prone to get things like pneumonia which would kill older populations.”
The CDC says it has developed a test "that can diagnose 2019-nCoV in respiratory and serum samples from clinical specimens.... Currently, testing for this virus must take place at CDC, but in the coming days and weeks, CDC will share these tests with domestic and international partners through the agency’s International Reagent Resource."
Earlier this week, a man in his 30s in Washington state became the first U.S. patient, diagnosed after returning from a trip to the outbreak's epicenter in central China. On Friday, the United States reported its second case, involving a Chicago woman in her 60s who was hospitalized in isolation after returning from China.
The number of confirmed cases around the world climbed sharply to more than 850, with at least 26 deaths, all of them in China.
Meanwhile, France announced that three people had fallen ill with the virus — the disease’s first appearance in Europe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expecting more Americans to be diagnosed with the newly discovered virus in coming days, as worldwide the number of confirmed cases has reached about 1,300.
"CDC believes that the immediate risk to the American public continues to be low at this time, but the situation continues to evolve rapidly," said CDC's Dr. Nancy Messonnier.