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After First Coronavirus Case in Boston, Harvard Postpones University-Related Travel to China

University Provost Alan M. Garber '77 and Harvard University Health Services Director Giang T. Nguyen sent an email to Harvard affiliates with increased guidance and restrictions concerning the coronavirus outbreak.
University Provost Alan M. Garber '77 and Harvard University Health Services Director Giang T. Nguyen sent an email to Harvard affiliates with increased guidance and restrictions concerning the coronavirus outbreak. By Caleb D. Schwartz
By Fiona K. Brennan, Crimson Staff Writer

In an email sent to Harvard affiliates Sunday, University Provost Alan M. Garber ’77 and Harvard University Health Services Director Giang T. Nguyen announced that all University-related travel to China would be postponed until further notice.

Garber and Nguyen also advised that people with “highly exceptional circumstances” for travelling to China before the end of February contact the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs. The email included a health form for all University affiliates who returned from China after Jan. 18 or are currently in China to receive additional assistance from HUHS.

This is the second email that Garber and Nguyen have sent to Harvard affiliates concerning coronavirus. On Jan. 29, Garber and Nguyen sent a similar email in which they advised against travel to China.

Sunday’s email came two days after the U.S. Department of State issued its highest travel advisory for China and three days after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency.

Over 14,000 cases of coronavirus in at least 23 countries have now been recorded, and the death toll is above 300.

On Saturday, Massachusetts state officials confirmed that a student at the University of Massachusetts Boston who recently returned from Wuhan, China — where the outbreak is believed to have originated — contradicted coronavirus. This is the first reported case of coronavirus in the state.

Garber and Nguyen acknowledged that the virus may cause “anxiety and emotional strain” and directed individuals towards Harvard’s mental health resources, including Counseling and Mental Health Services and Harvard’s Employee Assistance Program.

The pair included a reminder about the importance of treating all Harvard affiliates with “dignity and respect,” and reiterated that the risk that anyone at Harvard will contract coronavirus remains low.

“We emphasize that treating every member of our community with care and respect is of principal importance, especially during trying times like these. No member or segment of our community is at fault for this outbreak,” they wrote.

Garber and Nguyen wrote that the coronavirus outbreak is an “evolving situation” that Harvard is closely monitoring and that HUHS will continue to send periodic updates and update its website with any new information.

—Staff writer Fiona K. Brennan can be reached at fiona.brennan@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @FionaBrennan23

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