Cornell announces travel guidelines in response to coronavirus

As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization continue to monitor a novel strain of coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, the university has been proactively working with campus partners, as well as local and state resources, to protect the health and well-being of the Cornell community.

Following the recommendations of the CDC, the U.S. Department of State and International SOS, the university has designated mainland China as an elevated-risk destination. Until further notice, students are not permitted to travel to mainland China, and faculty and staff must obtain approval from Cornell’s International Travel Advisory and Response Team (ITART). The university strongly recommends that everyone reconsider even personal travel to China at the present time.

“While there are currently no reported cases of the virus in New York state, it is important that we are prepared,” said Sharon McMullen, assistant vice president of student and campus life for health and wellbeing. “Cornell Health has procedures in place to quickly identify anyone who might require evaluation and care for coronavirus, as well as an operational plan in the event of a national outbreak.”

Earlier this month, Cornell Health contacted students from Wuhan to provide guidance and to offer support. The Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs and the team in Global Learning have also been active in communicating with students from the region, as well as with students who have planned travel during the spring semester.

“Cornell is committed to working with all travelers to find alternative solutions that meet academic objectives impacted by this decision, but your health and safety are our top priority in cases like this,” said Wendy Wolford, vice provost for international affairs.

Some frequently asked questions:

What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?

Symptoms related to this coronavirus strain include fever above 100.4 F, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia or other complications.

What if I suspect I have the coronavirus?

Students on the Ithaca campus and at Cornell Tech with flu-like symptoms can call Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 for help determining whether to be evaluated. Cornell Tech students also can reach out to the Health and Wellness office at

Other members of the Cornell community should contact their primary care providers.

How does the virus spread?

The CDC and other health organizations are currently investigating how the virus is spread. It most likely originated from an animal source but now appears to be spreading from person-to-person. It is not yet known how easily the virus can be spread.

How can I prevent coronavirus?

The CDC will provide additional guidance as they learn more about the virus. For now, Cornell Health recommends taking the same precautions as protecting against flu, including frequent hand-washing, not sharing food or drink with others, staying home if you are sick, and protecting your immune system by getting adequate sleep. If you have not yet received a flu vaccine, there is still time to do so; for information visit the Cornell Health website.

If I’m sick, how do I know if it’s coronavirus or flu?

Coronavirus and flu symptoms can be similar. Even those with flu-like symptoms who have traveled to Wuhan, or had contact with someone who has, might have the flu rather than coronavirus. Students with flu-like symptoms should call Cornell Health for evaluation.

Why isn’t Cornell restricting campus access for people who have recently visited affected areas?

Cornell Health is following CDC and WHO guidelines, which do not include quarantining people without symptoms.

What should I do if I’m already in China?

All students currently in China are asked to provide a status update to by Jan. 30 at 10 p.m. EST, addressing their well-being and short- and long-term travel plans. It’s recommended that all students in China depart as soon as possible. If you already have a return flight, Cornell suggests calling the airline to discuss a flight change. Cornell will work with all students in China to assist with a safe, responsible departure. Any faculty or staff abroad are urged to inform themselves about the outbreak, what precautions to take, and to monitor the situation as it is evolving daily.

More information can be found on Cornell’s 2019 Novel Coronavirus response page, which is being updated as more information becomes available., which is being updated as more information becomes available. Additional information about the virus can be found via the WHO websitethe CDC Situation Summary and New York City Health. Travelers can also call Cornell’s travel assistance partner, International SOS, for any questions regarding the situation, medical referrals or advice on necessary precautions.

Media Contact

John Carberry