Staying Healthy During Coronavirus

January 31, 2020 9:55 am

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, originated in Wuhan, China and quickly spread, causing worldwide concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the symptoms mimic those of the typical flu, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. As of late January, more than 9,800 cases of the coronavirus have been reported globally, surpassing the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003. Those most susceptible to the coronavirus are the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

Students embarking on a study abroad experience around the world, or those who are already on-site, should follow these guidelines and tips to remain calm and healthy during this time:


Although cases of the virus have been reported in other locations, it is largely centered in China — specifically in Wuhan — and global containment efforts are underway. While traveling to your study abroad location, or while traveling for leisure outside of your host city, you may encounter enhanced screening measures at international hubs. These may include enhanced questioning or screening for symptoms. We encourage you to remain calm, as these measures are in place to help stem the tide of the virus.

If you intend to travel outside your program location, consult with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. State Department and follow all guidance provided by these sources. In addition, please remember to report your intended travel via the travel form in the IFSA Student Portal.


You can protect yourself against the virus by using the following common-sense measures advocated by the CDC and public health authorities globally:

  • Frequently clean your hands with alcohol-based sanitizer, or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue. Throw any tissues away immediately after using, and wash your hands
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with a fever and cough
  • Do not share food or drinks
  • Get a flu shot if you haven’t already
  • Regularly clean and sanitize common area surfaces

If you have travelled to China recently, you should closely monitor your symptoms. If you experience coughing, fever, and general cold and flu symptoms, visit a doctor immediately. Your insurance will cover this and IFSA can assist you.

If you are not already on-site, we recommend you bring additional hand sanitizer to your program location. Our on-site staff are also stocking up, but there have been some shortages reported.

What to do if you are sick

Students often get colds or even the flu while studying abroad. Don’t worry; just because you get sick doesn’t mean you have contracted the coronavirus. If you are not feeling well, you should:

  • Contact your on-site IFSA staff or your host institution’s health center—they will help you determine the best next steps
  • Stay home and get rest