NORTH CANTON, Ohio — Walsh University is now among the several universities in Ohio making arraignments to bring their students studying abroad in Italy back to the United States due to the rapidly developing coronavirus COVID-19 crisis in the country.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s rise to a Level 3 Travel Health Notice sparked Walsh University’s decision to begin making travel arraignments for all of the students studying at a campus outside of Rome, Italy to return to the United States.
The students were scheduled to study abroad in Italy for eight weeks, but after a single week abroad, they will return due to the coronavirus outbreak.
At least 219 people in Italy's north have tested positive for the virus, and five people have died. According to NBC News, 167 cases of the virus have been confirmed in the Lombardy region of Italy, which includes Milan.
According to NBC News, at least 10 cities in northern Italy with populations above 50,000 were locked down Monday to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Public events across the country were canceled, including some events with Venice's famed Carnival celebration.
The students are expected to return to Canton on Monday evening.
“Walsh University feels this was a necessary measure to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, which is always our highest priority,” the school said in a press release.
The students at Walsh University who were studying in Rome, Italy have been advised to remain off campus to self-monitor for 14 days as a precautionary measure. There have been no reported cases of the COVID-19 in the region the Walsh University students were studying, according to the school.
Walsh University joins Kent State University and Ohio State University in Ohio colleges recalling its students from Italy amid the coronavirus outbreak.
While strict guidelines have been issued for travelers returning from China have been implemented to slow the spread of coronavirus in the United States, the CDC has not issued those same guidelines for other high-risk areas, such as Italy, Iran or South Korea
The CDC lists the following travel procedures for those who have traveled to China and are attempting to return to the United States:
- Foreign nationals who have visited China in the past 14 days may not enter the United States.
- American citizens, lawful permanent residents, and their families who have been in China in the past 14 days will be allowed to enter the United States, but will be redirected to one of 11 airports to undergo health screening. Depending on their health and travel history, they will have some level of restrictions on their movements for 14 days from the time they left China.
If you are in the second group above and are traveling to the United States:
- Your travel will be redirected to one of 11 U.S. airports where CDC has quarantine stations.
- You will be asked about your health and travel.
- Your health will be screened for fever, cough, or trouble breathing.
Depending on your health and travel history:
- Yo u will have some restrictions on your movement for a period of 14 days from the time you left China.
The CDC lists the following instructions for those who have spent time in Italy during the past 14 days and feel sick with a fever, cough or difficulty breathing:
- Take your temperature.
- Seek medical advice. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Do not travel while sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
Healthcare providers in Northeast Ohio, and across the United States, have been given instruction from the CDC on how to handle patients returning to the United States from a country under a Travel Warning due to the coronavirus crisis:
Healthcare providers should obtain a detailed travel history for patients with fever or acute respiratory symptoms. For patients with these symptoms who were in Italy and had onset of illness within 2 weeks of leaving, consider the novel coronavirus and notify infection control personnel and your local health department immediately.
Although routes of transmission have yet to be definitively determined, CDC recommends a cautious approach to interacting with patients under investigation. Ask such patients to wear a face mask as soon as they are identified. Conduct patient evaluation in a private room with the door closed, ideally an airborne infection isolation room, if available. Personnel entering the room should use standard precautions, contact precautions, and airborne precautions, and use eye protection (goggles or a face shield). For additional healthcare infection control recommendations, visit CDC's Infection Control webpage.
For more information on the CDC's Level 3 Travel Warning to Italy, click here.