A day after a case of Wuhan’s Coronavirus was reported in the United States, a lead middle school called off an on-campus cultural exchange program with Chinese exchange students visiting the DC metro area because of certain health concerns.
Longfellow Middle School in Fairfax County, Virginia, decided to make the cancellation announcement Wednesday through a letter sent to parents.
The letter stated:
“While health officials believe the risk of illness transmission of the novel Coronavirus from these students is extremely low, we felt it necessary to make this adjustment,”
Fairfax County Public Schools spokeswoman, Lucy Caldwell told CNN that the group of students is visiting the location from Yi Chang in Hubei province, only 200 miles away from the city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus began.
Students of Longfellow Middle School were also about to have an exchange trip to Yi Chang in early April. Caldwell said the district will monitor the situation for now and announce the decision later if it will be canceled or not.
The letter stated that while students from Yi Chang will not be able to visit the school, Longfellow Middle School has found a way to redesign the program and facilitate activities in the DC area instead.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronaviruses are a huge group of viruses common among animals but can be transmitted to humans. Viruses like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) are both types of Coronaviruses.
These viruses make people sick with mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illnesses. Earlier reports from authorities believe that the Wuhan coronavirus is milder than SARS and MERS, and takes longer to develop symptoms. Imperial College London mathematical biology professor Neil Ferguson said that while the virus has a lower fatality rate that the previous viruses, it is still a significant global concern.
As for now, no vaccine is available against these coronaviruses. Its symptoms usually go away on their own, and while there’s no specific treatment yet, experts advise seeking care early on.
World Health Organization announced on Thursday that Wuhan coronavirus does not yet constitute a public health emergency of international concern.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated on Thursday:
“Make no mistake. This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency,”
“It may yet become one.”
The public statement came just after an emergency committee was built over two days in Geneva to advise WHO leadership on the outbreak. They were expected to make an announcement Wednesday, but Ghebreyesus said he did not have sufficient data needed to make the decision, and the committee was asked to reconvene a second day.
On Thursday, Committee chairman Dr. Didier Houssin told reporters that the committee’s decision remained split down the middle about whether to give the recommendation and decided it was “too early.”