15 students from Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated, visited Jesus College last weekRobert Edwards

The University today released official guidance on the coronavirus outbreak originating in Wuhan, China, a city which last week also sent students to stay in Jesus College as part of a cultural enrichment programme.

15 students from Wuhan visited the College from 13th - 22nd January, and attended a “range of lectures, talks and visits around the University of Cambridge,” according to Jesus’ website.

The college assured students in an email this afternoon “none of [the] visitors exhibited any symptoms … during their time here”.


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The University’s advice to staff and students travelling to China includes frequent hand-washing, avoiding contact with animals - and tells those exhibiting symptoms who have visited Wuhan in the past 14 days to “self-isolate and contact their college nurse or GP by telephone”.

The new strain of coronavirus - a family of viruses ordinarily transmitted from animals to humans - was first identified by Chinese authorities on 7th January and is thought to have originated in a seafood market in Wuhan.

The virus has so far claimed 26 lives in China and spread to more than 850 people worldwide, with cases now confirmed in North America and Europe.

“The University is aware of the recent Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan City, China and is monitoring the situation,” a University spokesperson told Varsity, but did not comment on whether the institution was taking any further precautionary measures.

In a note sent to colleges today, the University further stated it is “cooperat[ing] closely with Public Health England’s Health Protection Team in Cambridge”.

The 15 students from Wuhan College, which Jesus hosted for its ‘2020 Visiting Programme’, participated in lectures mainly led by Jesus academics, took day trips to London and Oxford, and had dinners with Cambridge’s Chinese Society and Cam+.

Between 2014 and 2016, there was an average of 14,000 overnight stays per year by Chinese visitors, while Cambridge remains their fourth favourite city destination in the UK in 2018, after London, Edinburgh and Manchester.

Some UK universities this week issued warnings to Chinese students stating they may risk being quarantined upon return if they visit the country for Chinese New Year. One of the UK's 14 suspected cases taken in for testing is believed to be a student at Edinburgh University.

Chinese authorities have placed travel restrictions on 13 cities, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognised an emergency in China, while Public Health England admits the probability of cases in the UK is "highly likely”.

However, both organisations emphasise risk both globally and in the UK is low, with results for all 14 suspected tests in the UK coming back negative. 

A spokesperson for Addenbrooke’s told Varsity the hospital is complying with PHE’s guidelines in preparing for a potential spread of the coronavirus.

Professor Paul Cosford, PHE's medical director, also stressed most of those affected abroad by the virus were making a good recovery. 

The novel coronavirus, which Chinese officials have named 2019-nCoV, is part of the same family of viruses as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which in 2003 killed almost 800 people worldwide.

Symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, shortness of breath, cough and breathing difficulties and have mostly been mild, though in some cases can lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death.

Varsity has reached out to Jesus for further comment.