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Coronavirus: These universities are canceling study-abroad programs

  • February 07, 2020

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Exclusive: Lindy Li is Princeton University’s Alumni President, and she delivers Fox News the latest on the quarantines at the school and how it is dealing with fears of students and beyond when it comes to coronavirus.

American universities are reconsidering their study abroad programs this year, following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which has reached the United States after originating in Wuhan, China.

Hundreds of thousands of students in the U.S., Europe and Australia could be affected by the changes, according to The Associated Press.

Schools are reportedly assessing the risk factors in their study abroad programs, and others have prohibited travel to and from China following a recommendation from U.S. officials.

“That door has been, if not slammed shut, certainly closed for the immediate future,” Michael Schoenfeld, Duke University’s vice president for public affairs and government relations told the AP.

Duke, which operates a campus in China in a partnership with Wuhan University, closed its campus in Kunshan to nonessential personnel until Feb. 24.

The school also assisted students who had recently applied for Chinese residency to obtain their passports from local officials so they could travel back home.


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There are 12 confirmed cases of the novel virus in the U.S., the first of which occurred in a Washington State man who has since been released from the hospital. Six other cases have been confirmed in California, as well as one in Wisconsin, one in Arizona, one in Massachusetts and two in Illinois. No deaths have been reported in the U.S., and the large majority of cases still remain in China. Overall, some 563 people have died of the virus and more than 28,000 have been sickened worldwide.

One diagnosis was confirmed at Arizona State University and another at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, which claimed the patient had recently traveled to China.

China sent more than 369,000 students to the U.S. in the last academic year, according to the Institute of International Education. The U.S. sends about 11,000 students to China each year.

The Berlin Free University and Berlin Institute of Technology in Germany said they will not sanction visits from China or to China until the situation stabilizes. Paderborn University, also in Germany, said it is reviewing travel plans of any students or doctoral candidates who were headed for the region.

Silesian University in the Czech Republic told the AP it has postponed its exchange programs for 38 Chinese students.

The University of Arkansas had about 60 students who were planning to travel to China beginning in May, but their programs have been canceled as well.

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Brown University announced that staff members from the International Programs worked with a number of students to enroll in an alternative study abroad program, or arranged for them to return to campus for the semester.

The University of Akron in Ohio and the University of Arizona canceled scheduled events for Chinese New Year due to concerns about the spread of the virus, but other schools are pushing basic sanitary habits and caution.

Andrew Thomas, the chief clinical officer at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, said the school is aware of the situation but is trying not to be “over the top to the point that we’re causing more concern and fear than is warranted in the community.”

Despite there being no vaccine to guard against the virus, U.S. hospitals are preparing for the possibility of a spike in patients and are taking steps to handle such an influx, if the need arises.

Medical centers are expected to “identify and isolate patients with 2019-nCoV and inform key facility staff and public health authorities,” immediately, according to the CDC’s “Hospital preparedness checklist,” provided on its website.

They must also limit the number of patients they offer treatment to, but also be prepared to react accordingly if the number of cases spike.

Hospitals are also asked to streamline communication, internally and externally, as well as monitor healthcare workers for possible signs that they’ve contracted the virus.


In addition to providing access to “negative-pressure airborne infection isolation rooms,” hospitals must make certain their supplies of hygiene products are fully stocked to help control the spread of the virus.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and shortness of breath. There aren’t many preemptive steps that can be taken to avoid infection, other than practicing basic sanitary measures on a regular basis.

Fox News’ Madeline Farber contributed to this report 

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