Editor’s note: This article has been amended from its original version to replace the term “self-isolate” with “self-quarantine,” based on CDC guidance on terminology.
University of Michigan officials say faculty, staff or students who recently traveled to China, South Korea, Italy or Iran should self-quarantine and monitor their health for two weeks in an effort to prevent the potential spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Additionally, any faculty, staff or students who are sick are being urged to stay home from class or work, and faculty and managers are asked to accommodate students and employees who do so.
The recommendations came in a campuswide email sent March 5 by President Mark Schlissel and Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani.
“University of Michigan health professionals have been closely monitoring the rapidly changing developments, and we are making a number of recommendations to promote a safe and healthy environment for our community,” they said.
The university’s message was updated March 8 with information and definitions on “self-quarantine,” which is now being used in place of “self-isolate” to describe the recommendation. This change is based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on terminology.
As of this update, U-M recommendations for travelers and others who are not sick have not changed. For those who are sick, the recommendation remains to stay home from class or work. When seeking medical care, call ahead and tell them about your symptoms.
No COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in Michigan at this time, and the university is proceeding with most scheduled events, classes and operations, including athletic events, the email said. However, some individual units are canceling or postponing events as a precaution.
Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 can change quickly, the campus community also is urged to “carefully consider any global travel,” according to the email.
“Impact on travel may include flight cancellations, additional health screenings, quarantine, restrictions on re-entering the United States, or requirements to (self-quarantine) upon arrival,” the email said. “If you plan to travel in the near future, it’s important to build in as much flexibility as possible into your plans.”
The self-quarantine recommendation applies to anyone who has visited a country with a Level 3 Travel Notice issued by the CDC. As of March 5, that covers China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. It currently does not apply in general to those who only traveled through an airport in a Level 3 country.
U-M Travel Restrictions also are in place for China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. All university-related and personal travel there, including by faculty and staff, is discouraged. International travelers are reminded to register with the U-M Travel Registry.
“We are assisting students who were studying abroad and returning from Level 3 countries and will continue to monitor the conditions overseas. International programs not in the Level 3 countries are currently proceeding as planned, except for some that have been canceled by individual units,” the email said.
For those who are self-quarantining, the precautions are recommended for 14 days from a person’s last day in the affected country. They include:
- Stay home, remain separate from other people and animals, and avoid visitors.
- Check your temperature at least twice a day. Contact your health-care provider if a fever or respiratory symptoms develop.
- When seeking medical care, call ahead and tell them about your symptoms.
- Do not use public transport like buses or taxis.
- If you have symptoms, wear a facemask around other people. Unless someone is sick with a cough, sneezing and fever, it is not advised to wear a mask.
“Students needing to (self-quarantine) based on prior travel are encouraged to consider doing so at home or in a setting that minimizes contact with others. Student Life is working to make alternative housing arrangements on campus for students who need a place to (self-quarantine),” the email said.
Students who self-quarantine can contact the Dean of Students office for assistance. Employees with questions about working arrangements during self-quarantine should contact their unit supervisor.
The email also said:
- U-M is taking extra precautions to clean high-touch surfaces on campus, including dining areas, classrooms, health care facilities and recreational facilities.
- Michigan Medicine is actively preparing for potential COVID-19 patients, and screening patients and visitors.
- U-M officials and medical experts are coordinating with state and local public health experts for developments related to possible disruption of campus operations.