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UW Health, UW-Platteville taking precautions regarding new strain of coronavirus

UW Health will begin screening patients based on travel history to Wuhan, China, while in Platteville, six students are being monitored for the new strain of coronavirus.

UW Health will begin screening patients based on travel history to Wuhan, China, while in Platteville, six students are being monitored for the new strain of coronavirus.

Image By: Isabel Alvarez

With the number of cases of the new strain of coronavirus rapidly increasing, UW-Madison and UW-Platteville seek precautionary measures to protect those on campus from the disease. 

UW Health began asking patients to detail their recent travel history Friday for possible exposure to the new strain of the coronavirus, first identified in the U.S. on Jan 21, 2020 in Washington. 

A second case was found in Chicago only days later. 

The UW-Madison hospital has taken precautions due to the proximity of the recent case in Chicago, ensuring that any patient suspected to have come into contact with the disease will be immediately quarantined.

“This afternoon we will start asking patients in our emergency departments and urgent care clinics for their travel history for possible exposure to the Coronavirus,” UW Health said in a statement on Friday, Jan. 24. “Patients will be asked about any recent travel to Wuhan, China and will be evaluated for symptoms like fever and acute respiratory illness. This will be expanded to other patient care areas, such as clinics, early next week.” 

UW Health has not identified any coronavirus cases.

At UW-Platteville, six exchange students who were recently in Wuhan are being monitored for the disease, but none of them have shown signs of coronavirus, according to a university statement released Monday. 

The Platteville students are living together in a residence hall and monitoring their temperatures, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. They are not under quarantine or isolation, and there are “no immediate or known threats to campus,” the university’s statement said. 

Of the six exchange students, two are residents of Wuhan, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. The two Wuhan residents were screened for coronavirus when they first arrived in Chicago at O’Hare International Airport. 

UW-Platteville has been in communication with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State public health officials announced Monday that the CDC is testing five Wisconsinites for coronavirus. The officials should find out the five statuses within two days, but did not say if any of the people being tested were among the UW-Platteville students. 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, such as the latest coronavirus strain that has caused recent outbreaks, according to the World Health Organization. 

So far, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for this virus. Symptoms may include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough or shortness of breath, according to the CDC. 

The death toll from this new strain of coronavirus reached 81 people Monday, the New York Times reported. No one outside of China has died from coronavirus. 

Currently, five people in the U.S. have tested positive for the virus. 

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