In this Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, photo, medial workers wearing protective gears move a patient suspected of contracting the new coronavirus from an ambulance to the Kyungpook National University Hospital in Daegu, South Korea.
Photo: Kim Jong-un /AP
Photo: Kim Jong-un /AP

Georgia colleges stop study abroad in South Korea due to coronavirus

Several Georgia colleges and universities are halting study abroad programs in the wake of concerns from federal health officials about the coronavirus.

The latest news came Friday when Morehouse College announced in a statement it has canceled a planned cultural exchange trip to Ghana and Senegal “because flight connections were in areas in which cases of the coronavirus disease have been reported.” The decision was made Thursday, Morehouse said in a statement.

Spelman College on Friday sent a message to students, faculty and staff saying it is “examining all upcoming study abroad trips to determine whether they should move forward.” 

Morehouse School of Medicine is convening a working group among the Atlanta University Center to coordinate the response among the schools, which includes Spelman, Clark Atlanta University, the Interdenominational Theological Center and Morehouse College.

The Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued a Level 3 warning that recommends avoiding non-essential travel to South Korea. A similar warning was issued earlier this month for China, where the outbreak began. Federal officials issued a less severe Level 2 warning for Italy, urging special precautions for high-risk travelers.

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So far, there are no confirmed cases in the Georgia.

Four of the state’s largest institutions have halted study abroad plans to South Korea since the federal government increased its coronavirus outbreak warning level for that nation.

“We are requesting all UGA study abroad students in South Korea impacted by this decision to return to the United States. We are ready to assist you and will work with you on academic and financial concerns,” the University of Georgia said in a message sent Thursday afternoon to students scheduled to study abroad in South Korea.

UGA has six students there who were scheduled to begin classes on March 16, a spokesman said.

Georgia State University and Georgia Tech cancelled its study abroad programs to South Korea, officials at the schools told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday. Georgia State had eight students in its program. Georgia Tech had 16 students who were scheduled to study or intern this semester in South Korea.

Emory, the state’s largest, private institution, banned travel to and from China earlier this month and on Thursday announced it has indefinitely suspended its study abroad classes in South Korea.

The University System of Georgia, which oversees operations at UGA, Georgia State and Georgia Tech, sent notice to all 26 of its presidents late Tuesday that recommends against all nonessential travel to China and South Korea, per instructions from state and federal public health officials. The University System issued a travel ban to China on Feb. 3 that included spring semester study abroad, conferences and research.

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