Coronavirus Concerns in Irvine – How Worried Should Students Be?


Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This is of the SARS strain of coronavirus. Experts believe the 2019-nCoV coronavirus originated in bats and spread to humans.

Ryne Dunman, Contributing Writer

The novel coronavirus has affected over 17,000 people across 23 countries with a report of 369 fatalities, as of Feb. 3. The city of Wuhan, China claims most of the affected patients and casualties and is believed to be the origin of the strain, according to the New York Post.

On Jan. 26, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the spread of the disease to Los Angeles and Orange County, California. While a specific city in Orange County was never mentioned, Irvine Valley College addressed rumors of the novel coronavirus in Irvine.

IVC Administration is aware that a case of the Coronavirus has been confirmed here in Orange County,” IVC acting president Cindy Vyskocil said in a public school email. “The patient has been quarantined at an Orange County hospital. At this point, Orange County officials have affirmed that no person-to-person transmission has occurred in Orange County … There is NO current ‘close contact’ link between the patient who has been hospitalized and an IVC student or employee.”

There is NO current ‘close contact’ link between the patient who has been hospitalized and an IVC student or employee.”

— IVC acting president Cindy Vyskocil

Despite this, rumors, jokes and fear circulated as students returned to school on Jan. 27. Many wore surgical masks and gloves or distributed hand sanitizer and bacterial wipes as precautions. Some students and administrators were mixed as to the severity of Orange County’s coronavirus.

“I don’t think it’s that bad,” freshman Nicole Wang said. “Yes, it has spread all over the U.S., but for high school kids like us, it won’t affect us as badly…we just need to make sure to wash our hands and just stay safe around people.”

“You should be taking the same precautions that you would with a cold or flu virus,” school nurse James Matejcek said. “Wearing a mask is not going to help. Wash your hands and just stay diligent. Don’t come into contact with people showing symptoms of being sick.”

The CDC stressed that “there is no evidence to suggest the new coronavirus is any more virulent than the flu” and confirmed most of the casualties were among older patients, typically those with weaker immune systems. Additionally, the eight coronavirus patients within the United States, including those in California, were said to be in good condition and have been hospitalized according to health officials.

“I heard from my friends that the patient in Orange County does have relationships with a lot of Chinese parents, but I think we’re doing the best we can to prevent as a community,” junior Peter Pan said. “People are treating [the coronavirus] really seriously – more seriously than I thought would happen – and I think that’s a positive thing to prevent further expansion of this virus.”

The coronavirus manifests itself in colds and flu-like symptoms, such as fever, coughing and headaches. In extreme cases, it may cause pneumonia and potentially-fatal respiratory conditions, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). There is currently no cure for the 2019-nCoV strain of coronavirus.