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ASU not planning to cancel classes because of coronavirus case

Dayana Henriquez and Daniel Oh wear medical masks Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, at Arizona State University days after a member of the school's community was diagnosed with a contagious virus following a trip to China. (KTAR News Photo/Griselda Zetino)

PHOENIX – Arizona State University is not planning to cancel classes after a community member was diagnosed over the weekend with a fast-spreading and dangerous new virus.

“We have received many inquiries about university operations in light of this case. The university remains open and classes are not cancelled,” Mark Searle, ASU executive vice president and provost, said Monday in a message to the Tempe university’s community.

“We are following the health protocols prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and reinforced by state and county health officials.”

In his message addressed to “ASU Students, Faculty, Staff and Families,” Searle said the school is working closely with Maricopa County and state health officials.

On Tuesday, in accordance with a CDC advisory, ASU President Michael Crow declared a moratorium on student, faculty and staff travel to China until the outbreak is resolved.

Students around campus Tuesday were spotted wearing medical masks, which were sold out in several stores in the area.

The ASU community member who contracted the cornonavirus had recently returned from a trip to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

The patient, who officials said isn’t seriously ill, doesn’t live in university housing and is in isolation at home. Health officials said they are keeping a close eye on the case, which was announced Sunday.

Symptoms of coronavirus are very similar to that of the flu, Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

The new 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.

Christ said to wash your hands, avoid touching your face and to stay home if you’re feeling sick.

More information about the illness can be found on the state health department’s website.

The Arizona case is one of five confirmed in the United States, all of whom recently traveled to Wuhan. U.S. health officials said they had no evidence the virus was spreading in the U.S. and they believe the risk to Americans remains low.

China has confirmed more than 2,700 cases of the new virus, most in Wuhan. More than 40 cases have been confirmed elsewhere in the world, with virtually all of them involving Chinese tourists or people who visited Wuhan recently.

The death toll is more than 100.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the patient was a student. The patient has been identified only as an ASU community member. The precise connection to the school has not been revealed.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Julie Levin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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