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U of M: 2 students asked to self-quarantine after coronavirus exposure

If they develop symptoms during the next 14 days they will be tested for the coronavirus.

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota confirms two students who recently returned from Europe have been advised to self-quarantine for 14 days after being "in close contact, while in Europe, with an individual confirmed to have COVID-19," according to a university statement. 

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) was notified by the Centers for Disease Control's MSP Airport Quarantine Station about two passengers who had been exposed to a person in Europe confirmed to have contracted the virus. Upon landing at the airport the two passengers were evaluated on the plane by a medical professional, who determined they did not show symptoms of the coronavirus, also referred to as COVID-19.

"They have not tested positive. They have no symptoms," said Daniel Huff, assistant Commissioner for Health Protection for MDH. "We are monitoring them. They were met by a quarantine officer here at the airport. It’s standard procedure for the CDC quarantine officer to evaluate any passengers that may have been infected and there were no symptoms."

As a precaution, MDH advised the passengers to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days. If they develop symptoms during that time, they will be tested for the coronavirus. Other passengers on the flight would then be notified if either tested positive. 

"Even if we were to test (the two quarantined passengers), if you don’t have symptoms you may not have enough to show even a positive testing at that point," Huff said. "If they were to become symptomatic we would test them, but at this time we don’t have any concern for folks on the plane."

"The University is providing support by arranging accommodations and regular wellness check-ins during their quarantine period. However, it is important to note that these students have not been in any University-owned buildings, including academic buildings or residence halls, since returning to the U.S.," said Chuck Tombarge, Chief Public Relations Officer for the U of M, in the university's statement released on Wednesday evening.

"Our public health system is so robust, there will be people assigned to them to make sure they have food, to see how they’re doing, everything else and that’s one of the things that I think should reassure Minnesotans," said Gov. Tim Walz. "Early detection, early warning, proper protocol and then a robust system to be able to care for them."

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MDH says these actions to isolate and monitor passengers potentially exposed to the coronavirus are simply part of a larger effort to keep the risk of spreading to others as low as possible. State health officials are also using the situation as a reminder for Minnesotans to take simple measures to prevent contracting and spreading the virus. 

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your sleeve or a tissue, not your hand 
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. 
  • Stay home when sick. 
  • Stay informed by visiting the MDH and CDC websites often. 

You can access more facts and information on the coronavirus through a special section on kare11.com. You can also text VIRUS to 763-797-7215 for links that may be helpful.   

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KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about Minnesota specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215.