On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated travel guidance, recommending avoidance of all nonessential travel to the entire country of China. Following the update, Donald Nieman, Binghamton University’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, released a Dateline announcement on Friday stating that all University-funded travel to China has been put on hold.
The hold includes “University-sanctioned education-abroad travel to China” for faculty, students and staff, according to the Dateline announcement. Additionally, the University recommends that anyone planning to travel to China outside of University business or programs consider the CDC and U.S. Department of State’s advisories.
“The travel hold is simply a response to warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State and the [CDC] and applies to any University-sponsored travel,” Nieman wrote in an email. “This would be travel by faculty, staff or students funded by or in pursuit of University business. It also applies to any students and faculty on study abroad trips to China.”
According to The New York Times, the overall death toll of the virus in China has passed 360 and there are more than 17,000 infections confirmed as of Sunday evening. Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus began, has an expanding quarantine put in place. Infectious disease experts around the world say the outbreak could become a pandemic, meaning it would be an ongoing epidemic on two or more continents.
“We don’t currently have any requests for travel to China at this time, but should we receive any they would most likely be delayed until conditions change, or perhaps canceled, depending on the timing of the travel or the duration of the hold,” Nieman wrote.
The CDC is closely monitoring the outbreak in the United States, stating that as of Jan. 31, there have been six positive cases and 121 cases still under investigation nationwide. The confirmed cases were in Arizona, California, Illinois and Washington state. While Broome County has tested two patients for infection, with a current total of 12 patients tested in New York state, none have tested positive.
On Sunday, Feb. 2, the United States began implementing travel restrictions, including temporarily prohibiting entry to foreign nationals who have visited China at any point two weeks prior to their return to the United States, according to CNN. This restriction will also apply to U.S. citizens who visited China’s Hubei province, where the outbreak began. Those who have will be quarantined for up to two weeks upon their arrival. The CDC will continue to conduct health screenings at major international airports.
Any students, faculty or staff who have recently traveled abroad, especially through China, and are feeling any respiratory infection symptoms should call BU’s Decker Student Health Services Center to make an appointment with a doctor, according to the Dateline statement. According to respiratory disease experts, the best preventative measures include covering coughs and sneezes and washing hands consistently.