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Two Harvard Affiliates Receiving Coronavirus Tests, Per HUHS Email

Two Harvard affiliates are currently being tested for the novel coronavirus, Harvard University Health Services Director Giang T. Nguyen wrote in an email early Wednesday afternoon.
Two Harvard affiliates are currently being tested for the novel coronavirus, Harvard University Health Services Director Giang T. Nguyen wrote in an email early Wednesday afternoon. By Ryan N. Gajarawala
By Fiona K. Brennan, Crimson Staff Writer

Two Harvard affiliates are currently being tested for the novel coronavirus, Harvard University Health Services Director Giang T. Nguyen wrote in an email early Wednesday afternoon.

Nguyen wrote that there are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus on campus, but the two individuals who are being tested are receiving “appropriate care.”

“Harvard has established protocols for evaluating patients who have symptoms and concern for COVID-19,” Nguyen wrote. “The protocols are guided by the CDC and advice from local public health agencies. The University is prepared to respond in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19. To date, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the Harvard University campus.”

He also urged students, faculty, and staff to respect the privacy of the individuals currently being tested. He added that, if the tests are positive, the University has protocols in place for dealing with possible cases of coronavirus on campus.

In an emailed statement to The Crimson, Nguyen outlined the steps HUHS takes in testing possible coronavirus cases.

“Specimens are collected at HUHS, but lab processing is done through external facilities, such as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health,” he wrote. “We work closely with state and local Departments of Public Health to respond and provide advice to the patient and their contacts.”

HUHS will also conduct contact tracing in accordance with health department recommendations.

“Close contacts in the patient’s household are advised to self-quarantine while test results are pending,” Nguyen wrote.

In his statement, Nguyen added that the results of the testing will likely be reported to HUHS in the next few days, but there is no “guaranteed turnaround time.”

Nguyen laid out a series of preventative measures to take in the email to Harvard affiliates, including being “vigilant” in taking hygiene measures and contacting HUHS if they have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Nguyen also pointed students toward Counseling and Mental Health Services, and faculty and staff toward the Employee Assistance Program, if the current situation on campus causes “stress and anxiety.”

News of the two tests comes a day after University President Lawrence S. Bacow announced students must vacate campus by Sunday at 5 p.m. After spring break, classes will move to an online platform.

Additionally, Massachusetts Governor Charlie D. Baker ’79 declared a state of emergency on Tuesday after the number of cases in the Bay State doubled overnight.

There are 95 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Massachusetts. More than 1,000 Massachusetts residents are currently being quarantined.

Nguyen directed Harvard affiliates toward the University’s coronavirus website for further updates on the outbreak.

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

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