WMU-related travel to China prohibited

Contact: Paula M. Davis

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University has been monitoring the coronavirus situation this week. Late Thursday, Jan. 30, the U.S. State Department issued a Level 4, "Do not travel to China," advisory.

The warning is intended to limit the spread of coronavirus, which the World Health Organization calls a global health emergency. Level 4 is the highest travel warning issued by the State Department. This is in addition to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's highest warning, Level 3: Avoid non-essential travel, which was issued on Monday.

WMU is following this guidance in order to preserve the health and safety of our community, which is always the first priority. With that goal in mind, all WMU travel to China is prohibited, effective immediately and until further notice. Travel authorizations to China, which are to be completed in advance, will not be approved. Personally incurred expenses for travel to China will not be reimbursed.

The University also encourages faculty, staff and students to avoid personal travel to China. WMU will follow CDC and Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services guidance for containing the spread of the respiratory illness. Such guidelines could call for a symptomatic individual to have curtailed attendance at work or in class if they have traveled to China since December 2019, when the current virus outbreak began.

Anyone who plans personal travel to China is encouraged to closely monitor the CDC’s Travel Health Notices website and the State Department’s Travel Advisories website.

What you need to know about coronavirus:

Novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV—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 United States.

According to the 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 much is still unknown about it.
  • Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have caused severe illness.

The best place to get the most recent information about coronavirus is on the CDC coronavirus website.

What is the risk?

According to the CDC today: "This is a serious public health threat. The fact that this virus has caused severe illness and sustained person-to-person spread in China is concerning, but it’s unclear how the situation in the United States will unfold at this time.

"The risk to individuals is dependent on exposure. At this time, some people will have an increased risk of infection, for example health care workers caring for 2019-nCoV patients and other close contacts. For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV is considered low.”

Symptoms and transmission:

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

  • fever
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing

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


People infected with coronavirus—2019-nCoV—should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for 2019-nCoV infection.


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

Currently, 2019-nCoV has not been found to be spreading in the U.S., so there are no additional precautions recommended for the general public to take.

Here are everyday actions to 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.

Recommendations for people with 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:

  • Immediately seek medical care. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Students can call Sindecuse Health Center at (269) 387-3287.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick. Please do not get on public transportation or arrive at the campus health center unannounced. Call ahead.
  • 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.

Previous communications:

Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020

Wednesday women's basketball game at Miami postponed

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Western Michigan women's basketball game at Miami (Ohio), scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. has been postponed. The contest will be made up at a later date, to be determined.

"As we have demonstrated time and time again, the health and safety of our student-athletes is our primary concern," director of athletics Kathy Beauregard said. "In light of this emerging health issue, and out of an abundance of caution, it was decided to postpone Wednesday's women's basketball game."

Keep checking with wmubroncos.com for further updates.

The Broncos return to action on Saturday, when they head to Ball State for a 3:30 p.m. game against the Cardinals. 

Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020

Campus Advisory: WMU monitoring emergent coronavirus, CDC guidance

WMU is monitoring public health concerns prompted by an emergent coronavirus that originated in China and that also is behind a small number of cases of illness in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this strain is a very serious public health threat. According to the CDC's assessment today, "for the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV is considered low." Because it is flu and respiratory disease season, officials advise getting vaccinated for flu and using everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals, if prescribed. The CDC also issued a Level 3 travel warning: Avoid all nonessential travel to China.  For more information, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.