As of Jan. 31, all University of Georgia trips to China for spring and summer of 2020 have been canceled as a precautionary measure for the coronavirus outbreak in China, according to an email sent to students in the UGA Maymester Study Abroad in China.
The decision follows the U.S. State Department’s updated travel advisory for China from Level 3: “Reconsider Travel” to Level 4: “Do Not Travel.” A separate email from the University System of Georgia stated that the “USG and its institutions will NOT approve travel to China effective immediately,” including spring programs, along with conferences and research.
The USG email said summer programs should make contingency plans in case the current travel advisories remain in place. UGA has canceled summer programs already, according to the email to Maymester in China students.
In the UGA email, program director Bob Grafstein notified applicants that, “out of an abundance of caution, the University's Office of Global Engagement has canceled all Summer 2020 China study abroad programs.” Students who paid the program fee deposit will be refunded.
The decision also comes a day after the Trump Administration declared a public health emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak, NPR reported. Beginning Sunday, foreign nationals who have traveled to China within 14 days will be banned from entering the U.S. Additionally, anyone who returns to the U.S. from the Hubei province will be placed in mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
As of Jan. 31, several major U.S. airlines — Delta, United and American — have announced the suspension of flights to and from China for the next several months, according to the New York Times.
As of press time, the current count of confirmed coronavirus cases is 12,036 with NBC News reporting eight confirmed cases in the U.S. Currently, 259 people have died due to the disease, while 284 have recovered. On Jan. 30, the outbreak was declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization.
This coronavirus outbreak has surpassed the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus outbreak in 2003, where the total number of recorded cases from the World Health Organization was more than 8,000.
Madison Messer, a first-year international business and finance major, said because she is not in the Terry College of Business yet, she wanted to find a program that could advance her skills related to her major.
“Going to China and learning the political science and economics behind China would be really helpful from a business standpoint,” Messer said.
However, despite the program’s offer to switch locations in Asia, Messer said she will stay in the U.S. this summer.
“I hate that it was canceled, but I do think it was for the best,” Messer said. “I probably will not go abroad just because the virus is still out there, and it’s spreading to all these different countries.”
According to UGA spokesperson Greg Trevor, there are currently two Chinese international students in China.