ASU to return students from Italy and South Korea amid COVID-19 concerns

In addition to the University's announcement, ADHS held a news conference Monday to discuss the virus

ASU has canceled all Spring 2020 study abroad programs in Italy and South Korea due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, commonly called the coronavirus.

All students abroad in Italy and South Korea have been instructed to leave at their earliest opportunity, and the University has instructed them to coordinate with their international coordinator if they need support to return,  according to ASU's coronavirus website. 

ASU’s Study Abroad Office is working with the students and their partner institutions that help put those programs together to provide solutions to the lost academic opportunities caused by leaving. 

The University is also working with the Financial Aid and Scholarship Services and ASU University Housing to provide the returning students financial and housing support.

Italy and South Korea are the second and third countries that ASU has pulled students studying abroad from, with the first being China.

Both have experienced some of the worst outbreaks outside of China promoting the Universities response to cancel the programs.

At this time, no other ASU study abroad programs have been canceled, a University official said.

However, various travel advisories have been issued to decrease the risk of COVID-19. 

The Arizona Department of Health Services held a press conference Monday to share tips, information and public health measures the state is and will be taking to ensure the health and safety of Arizona citizens.

Gov. Doug Ducey and ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ spoke at the conference to address public health concerns surrounding COVID-19. 

"Public health and safety are the most important responsibilities of the state government, and we are taking this threat seriously," Ducey said. 

Christ has prior experience working with outbreaks, like H1N1 in 2009, Ebola in 2014 and Measles in 2016

"Every action we take is to keep our communities and families safe while minimizing an impact on daily lives," she said. 

Christ said the virus is spread by person-to-person contact and respiratory droplets; symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. 

There have been 26 cases tested, and 24 of them are not infected. One patient is the now recovered ASU community member and one case is pending test results, Christ said. There are currently no deaths from the virus in Arizona. 

"The public health system in Arizona is well-prepared to respond to a possible pandemic," Christ said. She added that Arizona is following the Pandemic Influenza Response Plan, which was updated in May of 2019. 

ADHS will be able to use testing kits on 450 samples a day, and no shortages of kits are expected, Christ said. 

Christ said they are working with local and federal health partners to identify cases. Guidance is being created for community partners such as schools and healthcare officials. 

The state is working with the CDC and other partners to keep the public and community informed.

"I urge everyone to find reputable sources for info about the virus, and don't spread misinformation," Christ said. 

She encouraged people to find information at Maricopa County Department of Public Health, ADHS's website and the CDC. 

"I want to assure everyone that the public health system in Arizona is well-prepared to respond to the spread of the virus," Christ said, "We will continue to share up to date information and advice".


Reach the reporters at wmyskow@asu.edu and czuniga9@asu.edu and follow @wmyskow and @celzuniga   on Twitter. 

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