What's to know about Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2

Useful and updated information about the contagion and the protection of our community's health.

It is a new coronavirus strain which causes a respiratory disease. The outbreak of coronavirus was identified in Wuhan, in the Chinese province of Hubei. Chinese health authorities reported thousands of cases across the country.

Coronaviruses can infect a number of pets and wild animals. Coronaviruses can be transmitted from animals to humans and then from humans to humans. This had happened, for example, with the viruses causing MERS and SARS. 

Data about the coronavirus genomic characterization show that SARS-CoV-2 is a betacoronavirus and, like MERS and SARS, it may have its origin in bats. For more information visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site.

The University of Bologna follows the virus outbreak through the official channel of the Ministry of Health.

The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) has called the new coronavirus "Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2" (SARS-CoV-2).

FAQs about Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 outbreak


How does the coronavirus spread?

Human to human contagion mainly happens via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.  Similarly to SARS and MERS, the human to human spread has been confirmed through close contact.



SARS-CoV-2 infections may result in symptoms ranging from mild (80% of cases), to severe (20% of cases) with possible death in a very small proportion of cases (2%). Symptoms may appear from to 2 to 14 days after exposure and include:

  • fever;
  • cough;
  • shortness of breath.



The World Health Organization recommends the following hygiene practices and preventive actions:

  • Frequently clean your hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
  • When coughing and sneezing cover your mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands;
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.

Further information on the World Health Organization website.


Is it safe for staff members and students to travel to China or Asia?

Like other universities in Europe, on January 28 the University of Bologna advised staff members and students to temporarily avoid traveling to China for study, research or conference reasons until further notice.

The reason for this alert resides not only in the SARS-CoV-2 infection risk, but also in the unpredictable nature of the outbreak. Indeed, there is a connected risk of social disorders in the outbreak-affected areas which could make the return journey impossible.

The need to maintain this alert will be constantly assessed and updated.

The University of Bologna staff members and students traveling to other Asian countries are welcomed to do so until further notice.

Travelling to areas which the relevant authorities do not deem at risk is allowed. 


Recommendation for students and staff members coming back from China

If you are experiencing some of the symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) you should: 

  • Immediately see a doctor or call the toll-free telephone number 1500 of the Italian Ministry of Health;
  • Avoid close contacts with other people and do not go to crowded places;
  • Students are recommended not to attend classes or other activities if they are experiencing some symptoms.

If you are not experiencing any of the symptoms:
Monitor your body temperature every day. In case of increased body temperature you should immediately see a doctor or call the toll-free telephone number 1500 of the Italian Ministry of Health.

We recommend students and staff who have recently come back from China or outbreak-hit areas (as per daily updates by the World Health Organization) to stay alert and monitor their health, checking their temperature and for other symptoms during the next 14 days after their return from risk areas. Moreover, we recommend a voluntary trust-based quarantine until those 14 days have passed.


Recommendation for visiting scholars, researchers and staff members from China 

Chinese visitors should monitor their health status carefully by taking their temperature and watching for other possible symptoms during the first 14 days after leaving China and should see a doctor in case of illness.

The Emilia-Romagna Region activated a toll-free number, 800.033.033. Call this number for further information on the Coronavirus or to receive additional instructions in case you are experiencing some of the symptoms.


For any medical- or health-related issues you should call the toll free numbers, as indicated. For further non-medical information, the University of Bologna activated a specific email address: coronavirus@unibo.it.

Published on: 26 February 2020