Published January 22, 2020; Updated February 26, 2020

The University at Buffalo is monitoring the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation carefully and is taking proactive and prudent measures to ensure the health and safety of the UB community in accordance with the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At this time, the Erie County Department of Health reports there are no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Erie County, where UB’s campuses are located. 

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It is important for the university community to know that while the CDC considers this to be a serious public health concern, based on current information, the immediate health risk to the general American public is considered low at this time.

The campus community is reminded that this is also cold and flu season, so it is best to practice healthy habits including frequent hand washing, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, avoiding contact with sick people and getting a flu vaccination.

Bulletins and Announcements

The Latest Bulletins and Announcements

2/19: Notice for students in China unable to take the IELTS, PTE or TOEFL

The university has updated its policy on English language proficiency requirements for prospective students who have been affected by the closure of testing sites for TOEFL, IELTS and PTE.

Information about prospective graduate and professional student requirements is available on the Graduate School website.

Information about undergraduate student requirements is available on the International Admissions website.”

Previous Bulletins and Announcements

2/17: Update on self-isolation period

Students who returned from China at the beginning of the spring semester (Jan. 27) are now past the 14-day self-isolation period recommended for individuals who may feel sick with fever, cough or have trouble breathing.

There have been no reports of any cases of novel coronavirus in Erie County, including at the University at Buffalo.

It is important for individuals who have arrived, or those who will be arriving, after the start of the semester to continue to follow CDC and Department of Health guidelines.

2/4: Quarantine advisory for travelers from China

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have adjusted their guidance to individuals who have recently traveled from China. For travelers who have arrived in the United States on and after February 2, 2020, the following guidelines apply:

Individuals entering the United States from Hubei Province, China, will be subject to a mandatory quarantine for 14 days after leaving Hubei. The quarantine will be controlled by the CDC and/or state health officials. This quarantine will be in effect whether the individual is sick or not.

Individuals entering the United States from areas of China other than Hubei will be asked to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine will be actively monitored by local and/or state health officials, and will be in effect whether the individual is sick or not.

If symptoms occur during their quarantine, individuals should follow the instructions given to them by the health department.

Students who fall into either category above should contact their faculty directly to discuss their absence from classes due to quarantine. Faculty, staff and visiting scholars who fall into either category above should contact their supervisor to discuss their absence from work due to their quarantine.

CDC Travel Advisories:

For the latest CDC travel advisories, visit https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices

* China – Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel

* Iran – Level 2: Special Precautions for High-Risk Travelers

* Italy – Level 2: Special Precautions for High-Risk Travelers

* Japan – Level 2: Special Precautions for High-Risk Travelers

* South Korea – Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel

FAQ

FAQ: What is UB Doing?

What is UB doing to keep the campus community informed?

UB is using multiple communication channels to keep the campus community informed. This includes:

  • Creation of a website, wap.baby-comp.com.cn/coronavirus.
  • Statements shared with news media, including the UB Spectrum.
  • Contacting individuals who may have recently traveled in an area affected by the coronavirus.
  • Posting information in MyUB.
  • Posting a Campus Bulletin.
  • Publishing a Need to Know in UBNow.
  • Contacting deans and other university leaders asking them to disseminate this information.
  • Emailing the campus community at large.

How will UB notify the university community if there is a case of novel coronavirus at UB?

The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) is the official source of information about confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at UB or anywhere in the county. The university will work closely with the ECDOH if a notification is needed. At this time, the ECDOH reports there are no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Erie County, where UB’s campuses are located.

Per ECDOH protocol, neither ECDOH nor UB will comment on rumors of suspected cases or on suspected cases that may be under evaluation.

Has UB been proactively reaching out to students returning to campus from China?

Yes. The university is taking proactive and prudent measures to ensure the health and safety of the entire UB community, including our Chinese students. On January 23, prior to the start of the spring semester, UB Student Health Services reached out to all UB students from China and provided them with guidance on how to monitor their health. They also recommended that students immediately self-isolate and contact Student Health Services if they experience specific symptoms that may indicate exposure to the coronavirus.

Are students, faculty or staff from China being excluded from classes and activities?

In accordance with guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UB students, faculty or staff from China, who have arrived in the U.S. before Feb. 2, 2020, are not being excluded from classes or university activities based solely on their travel history.

Individuals entering the United States from Hubei Province, China, on or after Feb. 2, 2020, will be subject to a mandatory quarantine for 14 days after leaving Hubei. The quarantine will be controlled by the CDC and/or state health officials. This quarantine will be in effect whether the individual is sick or not. During the period of quarantine, these individuals cannot participate in campus activities or attend classes.

Individuals entering the United States from areas of China other than Hubei, on or after Feb. 2 will be asked to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine will be actively monitored by local and/or state health officials, and will be in effect whether the individual is sick or not. During the period of quarantine, these individuals cannot participate in campus activities or attend classes.

Additionally, to protect the health of the UB community, healthy precautions should be taken by everyone. These include washing hands more frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, staying away from others when ill and avoiding sharing personal items such as eating utensils and beverages.

Is UB coordinating with health agencies?

UB Student Health Services is coordinating closely with local and state health authorities on these and other measures, as well as following the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What is UB doing to make sure it is responding appropriately?

A team of very experienced professionals representing all major administrative areas of the university is working together to monitor and respond to this evolving situation. UB officials are also working with the county and state health departments, as well as following the latest guidelines and information regarding coronavirus provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What support is the university providing students from China who are unable to travel to UB?

The university is assisting students on a one-on-one basis if they are unable to travel to UB because of travel bans in China. Students who are unable to depart China are advised to contact International Student Services (isss@buffalo.edu) to discuss the best course of action for continuing their academic careers at UB.

What is UB doing to assist prospective students affected by testing site closures?

The university has updated its policy on English language proficiency requirements for students affected by the closure of testing sites for TOEFL, IELTS and PTE. Please visit the Graduate School website and the International Admissions website for more information.

FAQ: Health Questions and Concerns

What is the risk to people in the United States?

For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.

Within the United States, the CDC reports that at this time this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community. In addition, at this time the Erie County Department of Health reports there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Erie County, where UB’s campuses are located.

Outbreaks of novel virus infections among people are always of public health concern. The risk from these outbreaks depends on characteristics of the virus, including whether and how well it spreads between people, the severity of resulting illness, and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus (for example, vaccine or treatment medications).

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 COVID-19 patients and other close contacts. 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The symptoms of novel coronavirus are similar to other viral illnesses and include:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • A general feeling of being unwell

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

No vaccine or specific treatment for COVID-19 is available; medical care provided to ill individuals is supportive in nature. 

What can I do to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

While there is currently no vaccine for novel coronavirus, everyday preventive actions can help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses. It is recommended that you:

  • 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.

What should I do if I think I have contracted COVID-19?

If you have been in China within the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough or have trouble breathing, you should:

  • Self-isolate and avoid contact with others
  • Students should call UB Student Health Services at 716-829-3316.
  • Faculty/staff should contact their health care professional. Be sure to call ahead and tell your provider about your travel and symptoms you are experiencing.

The campus community is reminded that this is also cold and flu season, so it is best to practice these healthy habits:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid contact with others who are sick
  • Get a flu vaccination

What is UB’s protocol if a student or employee reports symptoms of novel coronavirus?

To ensure the health and safety of the university community, UB Student Health Services is coordinating with local and state health authorities to implement multiple measures — including screening UB students who report possible symptoms or recent travel to areas impacted by the novel coronavirus. In the event a UB student meets the criteria for possible infection, UB Student Health Services is prepared to isolate students, monitor their symptoms and coordinate with local and state health authorities to ensure they receive proper care.

In the event an employee meets the criteria for possible infection, the university will coordinate with local and state health authorities.

At this time, the university is not aware of any students, faculty or staff who have been exposed to the novel coronavirus. It is important for the university community to know that while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers this to be a serious public health concern, based on current information, the immediate health risk to the general American public is considered low at this time.

What should I do if I have additional questions or concerns?

Students

Students who have concerns about their health should contact UB Student Health Services at 716-829-3316. For any questions regarding on-campus living arrangements, students and/or their families should contact UB Campus Living at 716-645-2171.  

Faculty, Staff and Visiting Scholars

Faculty, staff and visiting scholars should contact their primary care provider.

Media

Members of the press should contact UB's Media Relations Team.

FAQ: Cultural Awareness

Should I be concerned if I see people on campus wearing surgical/respiratory masks?

No. Wearing surgical masks is common in many cultures, where people use masks to reduce inhalation of pollutants, prevent germs from spreading, reduce risk of infection and to provide themselves with peace of mind during cold and flu season.

Why did the Chinese Club of Western New York and UB Confucius Institute postpone the Jan. 25 Chinese New Year gala?

The event organizers, the Chinese Club of Western New York and UB Confucius Institute, postponed the Chinese New Year gala (planned for Jan. 25) out of an abundance of caution over general concerns from community members about attendees who may have travelled abroad recently. Many such Chinese New Year’s events throughout the USA have been postponed or cancelled for similar reasons.

Why are international students important to UB being a premier public research university?

As one of the nation’s leading public research universities, UB is committed to creating a diverse, welcoming and inclusive community that serves as a foundation for achieving excellence and success. The university community includes students from more than 100 countries who make UB a great, globally minded institution. They also add immeasurable academic and cultural value – including research, scholarship and creative activity - that impact and positively change our campuses, as well as our local and global communities.

FAQ: New Quarantine Guidelines

I traveled in China and returned to the U.S. on or after Feb. 2, 2020. What should I do?

Individuals entering the United States from Hubei Province, China, will be subject to a mandatory quarantine for 14 days after leaving Hubei. The quarantine will be controlled by the CDC and/or state health officials. This quarantine will be in effect whether the individual is sick or not.

Individuals entering the United States from areas of China other than Hubei will be asked to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine will be actively monitored by local and/or state health officials, and will be in effect whether the individual is sick or not.

I’m a UB student who traveled in China recently and returned to the U.S. before Feb. 2, 2020. What should I do?

In accordance with guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UB students, faculty or staff from China, who have arrived in the U.S. before Feb. 2, 2020, are not being excluded from classes or university activities based solely on their travel history.

Individuals entering the United States from Hubei Province, China, on or after Feb. 2, 2020, will be subject to a mandatory quarantine for 14 days after leaving Hubei. The quarantine will be controlled by the CDC and/or state health officials. This quarantine will be in effect whether the individual is sick or not. During the period of quarantine, these individuals cannot participate in campus activities or attend classes.

Individuals entering the United States from areas of China other than Hubei, on or after Feb. 2 will be asked to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine will be actively monitored by local and/or state health officials, and will be in effect whether the individual is sick or not. During the period of quarantine, these individuals cannot participate in campus activities or attend classes.

Additionally, to protect the health of the UB community, healthy precautions should be taken by everyone. These include washing hands more frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, staying away from others when ill and avoiding sharing personal items such as eating utensils and beverages.

I’m a UB student affected by the new quarantine guidelines. How will this affect my studies at UB?

Undergraduate students who are under either a mandatory or voluntary quarantine should contact the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Education at uge-dean@buffalo.edu.

Graduate students should contact the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School at grad-dean@buffalo.edu.

The university understands that quarantined students will need additional support to manage their coursework while under quarantine. We will work with students on a one-on-one basis to provide assistance so that they may complete their assignments while adhering to the quarantine.

Will I be allowed to continue residing on campus if I am affected by the quarantine guidelines?

The Erie County Department of Health will work with UB health officials and Campus Living to make arrangements for any UB student who is impacted by the quarantine measures. It will vary depending on the situation. UB Campus Living has a protocol already in place for managing housing during an infectious illness such as novel coronavirus. The health and safety of all students is priority for the university. 

What if I am under quarantine and live off campus?

The Erie County Department of Health will directly contact any students, faculty, staff or visiting scholars who reside off campus and have been quarantined. The local health department will provide further guidance and instruction on what to do.

What is UB Counseling Services doing to assist students who may need mental health support during this stressful time?

Any UB student who is experiencing increased anxiety or stress related to concerns for family or friends in China is asked to contact UB Counseling Services at 716-645-2720 to schedule a same-day appointment.

UB's Response to novel coronavirus

News

2/17/20

County is also advising individuals to 'verify all information you may receive online, especially via social media.'

1/31/20

Members of the campus community are being provided important information on novel coronavirus, including tips on how to monitor their health.