A Cornell University student may be infected with novel coronavirus that’s behind some 425 deaths and more than 20,000 illnesses worldwide.

University officials said in a statement released on Monday that a Cornell student, who was not identified, “presented symptoms that met criteria for testing for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.” He or she has been tested for the virus and the results from the test are pending. For now, the student, who does not live on campus, “is currently in isolation, safe and receiving ongoing care,” they said.


It’s not clear if the student had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the deadly outbreak.

“Cornell is working in concert with the Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) to monitor and support the health and safety of the individual and the broader community. A contact investigation is underway through TCHD. Anyone who has had close contact, as defined by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], with the individual will be contacted by TCHD,” Cornell officials wrote.

Officials encouraged the Cornell University community to show “compassion and empathy for each other” despite the fears that arise with a public health crisis. (The reminder comes as some Asian students at other universities in the nation — namely Arizona State University, which confirmed a case of coronavirus on its campus —  claim they have been treated differently amidst the outbreak.)

“We need to remember to care for one another and not make assumptions about others’ perceived symptoms or any characteristics of identity,” the statement reads. “This is a time for the Cornell community to support one another. Your compassion and empathy for each other make a difference.”


Cornell University buildings viewed from McGraw Tower. (iStock)

Symptoms of the novel virus and the flu are similar — fever, shortness of breath and cough. But “If you have recently traveled to China, and have developed fever with respiratory symptoms within 14 days of your travel, or have had contact with someone who is confirmed to have Novel Coronavirus, you should seek medical care immediately,” said Cornell officials.

There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York. The Ithaca student’s case could be the first if he or she tests positive for the virus.

Overall, at least 25 countries have reported cases of coronavirus. Currently, the U.S. has confirmed 11 cases. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, which is a part of the CDC, on Monday confirmed the second person-to-person transmission of the virus in the country in a California couple.


There’s likely to be more cases of person-to-person transmission of coronavirus in the U.S., which is awaiting the test results of some 82 suspected cases, Messonnier told reporters. The other 167 other potential cases have tested negative for the virus.

Currently, there are six cases of the novel coronavirus in California, one in Arizona, one in Washington state, one in Massachusetts and two in Illinois. No deaths have been reported in the U.S., and the large majority of cases still remain in China.