Taylor Glascock / The New York Times

An airport employee in an international terminal in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

January 30, 2020

International Coronavirus Outbreak Prompts University Ban on Travel to China, Study Abroad Cancellations

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Correction appended.

The University will not permit any Cornell students and faculty to travel to mainland China for University-related reasons in light of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak — which has sickened over 7,700 people worldwide.

Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff wrote in an email to the Cornell community that the University will support any Cornellians currently in China and students slated to study abroad in China this semester would be notified about this by the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs.

“I understand that this is a challenging time for many community members from China who are concerned for family and friends who may be in affected areas,” Kotlikoff wrote.

This ban on traveling to China for University-related purposes will last until Cornell’s International Travel Advisory and Response Team removes China from its elevated-risk destinations list. ITART placed China on the list because the Centers for Disease Control expanded its travel warning to include all of China — not just Wuhan, China, where the outbreak originated. Faculty and staff would be allowed to travel to China for Cornell-related purposes with ITART approval.

The University also said it will continue to monitor the outbreak. So far, there have been no confirmed cases in New York state.

There are currently five confirmed cases in the U.S. in Washington, California, Arizona and Illinois. All cases involve individuals who had previously traveled to Wuhan.

In addition to the University-wide notice, faculty in the Chinese and Asia Pacific studies program decided on Tuesday to suspend its Beijing study abroad program for the spring 2020 semester, leaving students scrambling to figure out housing and course arrangements for the semester. Students in the major were set to leave Feb. 13 for the trip.

“Our advising deans and CAPS faculty are working closely with the seven Arts & Sciences students affected by this decision to provide support and alternate arrangements for courses and housing,” said Rachel Bean, senior associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Students were told at approximately 1 p.m. on Tuesday about the cancellation via a ZOOM chat, where the director of the major, Prof. Allen Carlson, government, confirmed that the Beijing program would not be in place this semester.

Jae Chang ’21, a CAPS major, told The Sun that he is now trying to find housing for the spring semester

While Bean gave no specific reason given as to why the program was suspended, CAPS students told The Sun that the cancellation was attributed to the recent Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

Faculty decided to cancel the semester in Beijing because of the uncertainty surrounding the outbreak and the CDC’s expanded travel warning, according to Chang.

In Beijing, there are 111 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Wednesday evening. Schools in Beijing have also closed indefinitely.

Worries surrounding the Wuhan coronavirus have spread across campus. Students can be seen wearing masks, and the Office of Global Learning hosted community gathering on Jan. 29 to offer support to Chinese international students affected by the outbreak.

A student studying abroad at a Syracuse University partner program in Australia tested positive for coronavirus, and is currently isolated.

To complete a CAPS major, a semester in Beijing is mandatory, according to the major’s website. Students spend a semester at Peking University’s School of International Studies, where they take courses on topics such as Chinese perspectives on international issues and the Chinese language. It is currently unclear how this cancellation would affect graduation requirements.

CAPS major Drake Avila ’21 said he was looking forward to the trip, but was relieved that the semester abroad was canceled.

“As part of this program, I would have been interning part-time in Beijing, two hours, two days a week,” Avila said. “I’m glad they took our personal health and safety that much in concern.”

This article has been updated to clarify travel procedures to China for faculty and staff.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the number of confirmed coronavirus cases. There are over 7,700 worldwide, the previous statistics given were in reference to the SARS outbreak.