Chinese province placed on UT-Austin’s restricted travel list after coronavirus outbreak

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — In the wake of a major outbreak of the new coronavirus, the University of Texas at Austin has placed Wuhan province in China on its restricted travel list, banning students studying abroad from traveling there. They made the decision after the U.S. Department of State recommended American citizens avoid travel to the province.

Randy Penson, the Director of Global Risk and Safety for the University of Texas at Austin, tells KXAN the university does have students studying abroad in China. He did not tell KXAN how many or where they are studying citing privacy concerns.

The University has 16 education abroad options in China, but not all are active. All the students currently there are in one unnamed city.

Penson tells KXAN the students receive “daily emails with information and advice. All of our students abroad are enrolled in international medical and travel security services.”

So far Penson writes, “none of the students with whom we are in touch with have reported any problems or issues related to the virus.”

Back in Austin, other universities are sending information to their domestic students.

“Risk to the U.S. population is considered low at this time. However, any person that develops fever and signs of a respiratory illness (cough or shortness of breath) and has traveled to Wuhan, or Hubei Province, in China during the previous 14 days should seek medical care,” stated a Texas State University message to students. “Early symptoms could include chills, body aches, runny nose, sore throat or headache. Healthcare providers should be contacted prior to the visit to alert them to the respiratory symptoms and recent travel to China. Precautions should be taken to reduce the possible transmission of infection by covering coughs or sneezes, wearing a surgical mask, limiting contact with others and washing hands frequently.” 

Dr. Rodney R. Rohde at Texas State University Clinical Laboratory Science program tells KXAN: “If you are following the respiratory viral pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, China, you will note I have mentioned when the outbreak was reported that I thought it was a newly emerging virus or one that had shifted/drifted from SARS. SARS and MERS are coronaviruses typically associated with respiratory viruses. The cluster of unidentified pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, have been associated with a novel coronavirus. This is the family of viruses that the agents of SARS and MERS belong to, but it is a new, unique virus. It does not yet have a name, but surely will soon.”

A spokeswoman for St. Edwards University tells KXAN they do not have any students in China.

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