UMD suspends study abroad programs in China amid coronavirus outbreak

The University of Maryland's Health Center on Sept. 16, 2019. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

The University of Maryland announced Wednesday it would suspend study abroad programs in China for the spring semester amid an outbreak of coronavirus.

In a campuswide email, Provost Mary Ann Rankin wrote that the university also will stop authorizing travel to China “until further notice.”

The virus — which originated in Wuhan, China — had infected at least 6,000 people in the country as of Wednesday night and killed over 130, according to The New York Times. It causes pneumonia, and in severe cases, organ failure.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended avoiding all non essential travel to China. The university study abroad programming in China included the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Dalian. None of the cities are located in Hubei, where Wuhan is located.

There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state of Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan wrote in a press release Wednesday morning. One person exhibited symptoms that met the CDC’s criteria for testing for the virus, and they remain in isolation pending the results, Hogan wrote.

Still, the university’s Campus Infectious Disease Management Committee and Incident Response Team are monitoring the outbreak. The university increased cleaning and disinfecting in university buildings, residence halls, fraternities and sororities, recreation facilities, the Stamp Student Union and Shuttle-UM buses, according to a web page it created to post updates on the situation.

In addition, the University Health Center is asking visitors about their travel and health history. Coronavirus is more common in people with weakened immune system, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As part of the university measures, testing for coronavirus will be coordinated through the CDC. Clinical laboratories cannot test for this virus, Hogan wrote in his release.

Students experiencing fever, cough and difficulty breathing should go to the nearest hospital and alert suspected exposure, Rankin wrote.

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