KU says China remains only travel-restricted country amid coronavirus outbreak

photo by: Associated Press

A bus passes in front of Strong Hall on Nov. 16, 2015, on the University of Kansas campus. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

The University of Kansas on Wednesday said it had no active plans to update its list of restricted travel areas in light of growing concerns that the coronavirus could spread in the United States.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a national media briefing that the likelihood of the respiratory virus — which originated in China — spreading in the United States had become “not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”

In response to the virus, universities around the country have limited and restricted travel to and from China and other countries heavily impacted by the virus. This week, The University of Texas and Syracuse University, among other high-profile institutions temporarily banned travel to South Korea.

KU spokesperson Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said the only active travel restriction for the university is the one that Chancellor Douglas Girod issued on Jan. 31, which canceled all travel to and from China.

“Like universities across the U.S., we are continuing to stay informed of the situation in coordination with public health partners like (the Kansas Department of Health and Environment),” she told the Journal-World.

KU’s current travel restriction for China was in response to a Level 4 warning from the U.S. State Department, which advised against all travel to China because of the outbreak.

Barcomb-Peterson didn’t elaborate on why KU wasn’t planning to add South Korea to its list of restricted travel areas. The country is experiencing the largest coronavirus outbreak outside of China, reporting more than 1,200 cases.

Ashley Jones-Wisner, a spokesperson for KDHE, told the Journal-World that, at this point in time, the department is recommending that universities in the state follow travel guidance from the CDC.

The CDC has issued a Level 3 travel warning for both China and South Korea, meaning that all nonessential travel to the two nations is highly discouraged.

The federal agency has identified the following nations as having an increased risk of community spread of coronavirus: China, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.


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