October 24, 2020

With hundreds of Chinese students Troy State on watch for coronavirus

For the past month, concerns have been growing about the new coronavirus spreading out of Wuhan, China.

With nearly 400 Chinese students on the Troy University campus, there has been an extra layer of concern as every U.S. case of the coronavirus so far has had a direct link back to the country.

Herb Reeves, dean of students services, said there is no widespread panic on campus about the virus, but the university is taking precautions about the virus as U.S. health officials are doing.

A planned faculty trip to China in spring has been canceled on account of the virus and officials have also checked with students who have recently traveled to China – who have no signs of contracting the virus.

From Europe to Australia and the United States, universities in countries that host Chinese students have reconsidered academic-related travel to and from China. In the U.S., the cancellations add to the tension between two governments whose relations were already sour.

The scare threatens to cause lasting damage to growing academic exchange programs that reached new heights over the last decade and a half, experts say.

The travel restrictions also complicate planning for conferences and campus events in the U.S. that scholars from China might attend.

From Europe to Australia and the United States, universities in countries that host Chinese students have reconsidered academic-related travel to and from China. In the U.S., the cancellations add to the tension between two governments whose relations were already sour.

The scare threatens to cause lasting damage to growing academic exchange programs that reached new heights over the last decade and a half, experts say.

Two of the 12 confirmed U.S. cases are linked to college campuses. One diagnosis was confirmed at Arizona State University and another at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, which said the infected student had recently traveled to Wuhan.

Most Chinese students studying in the U.S. were already in place for classes when the virus emerged, but worries about the illness have led many schools to cancel plans to send Americans to China for an upcoming semester.

The travel restrictions also complicate planning for conferences and campus events in the U.S. that scholars from China might attend.

The death toll in mainland China’s new virus outbreak has risen to 636, including a doctor who got in trouble with authorities in the communist country for sounding an early warning about the disease threat.

Two docked cruise ships with thousands of passengers and crew members remained under 14-day quarantines in Hong Kong and Japan.

Before Friday’s 41 confirmed cases, 20 passengers who were found to have the virus were escorted off the Diamond Princess at Yokohama near Tokyo. About 3,700 people have been confined aboard the ship.

The flu-like virus has researchers worldwide once again scrambling to find a vaccine against a surprise health threat, with no guarantee one will arrive in time.

Just days after Chinese scientists shared the genetic map of the culprit coronavirus, researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health had engineered a possible key ingredient for a vaccine they hope to begin testing by April.

All that work is coming at lightning speed compared to past outbreaks. Yet many experts agree it still may take a year — if every step along the way goes well — for any vaccine to be ready for widespread use.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.