On Sunday Jan. 26, the Arizona Department of Health Services Director, Cara Christ announced that the fifth recorded United States case of the fatal coronavirus flu had been contracted by an Arizona State University (ASU) student who attended classes at the Tempe campus.
Since then, local pharmacies have sold out of the recommended surgical face masks.
“You can’t tell if somebody’s sick for two weeks and it’s still contagious,” ASU Tempe campus student, Donald Wilson said through his own face mask. “I figure it’s probably nothing. But, I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
The coronavirus was first reported in the Middle East in 2012 but, gained news headlines when it infected a large portion of Wuhan, China. According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), since late January, more than 5,000 cases have been reported with a death toll that topped 170 as of Jan. 30. Symptoms of the flu include body aches, coughs, runny nose, and other similar symptoms to a normal flu. The only way to know if an individual has contracted coronavirus is to be tested.
Additionally, SCMP reported that the coronavirus flu is contagious during its incubation period. The flu jumped countries in one month from China to Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, and the United States. Individuals with respiratory conditions are thought to be at high risk. The Center for Disease Control also reported that surfaces touched by carriers can remain contagious and can be contracted if that individual then touches their eyes or mouth.
Regarding the ASU case, there are both worries and rumors. Fox reporter Kari Lake tweeted on Jan. 27, “I spoke w/ medical professional involved w/ Arizona’s first novel coronavirus case & another patient transported to the same hospital w/ cv-symptoms. Sources say both are ASU students w/ recent travel to China.” She then posted a summary of ‘her conversation’ which was missing a response from Maricopa Health specialists. Later, Lake tweeted that the student had not shown symptoms at a hospital but instead, a clinic.
“We are following CDC protocol as far as who should be tested for coronavirus,” an ASU spokesperson answered via email, regarding Lake’s tweet about a second individual. “To meet the criteria for testing you must be exhibiting cold/flu symptoms and you must have traveled to Wuhan, China. If you don’t meet those two criterion, testing is not needed.”
“She has been going to classes at brickyard (ASU Tempe campus) since she got back from China,” an anonymous source, who lived in close proximity to the patient’s family, claimed via email. “Before being diagnosed.”
The ASU spokesperson reiterated that classes will remain in session and the university will stay open. “Due to patient privacy concerns, details on the individual with the virus are not available,” the spokesperson said. “I can say that this person is in self-isolation off-campus and doing well.”
They continued to add that individuals should wash their hands, cover their coughs or sneezes, and avoid close contact with anyone who appears to be ill.