Kentucky Universities Suspend Travel To China In Response To Coronavirus

Jan 31, 2020

Credit Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Three of Kentucky’s public universities are suspending travel to China as the country works to contain a deadly outbreak of the coronavirus.

The suspensions come after the World Health Organization declared the virus a “global health emergency.” The U.S. State Department also stepped in to issue a level four travel advisory, which is known as a “Do Not Travel” order. 

Two Kentucky universities have rules that automatically suspend university-sanctioned travel to countries where a State Department level four travel advisory is in effect. The University of Kentucky is one of those schools. UK President Eli Capilouto said all non-essential university-sponsored travel to China will be prohibited until further notice. He said appeals will be heard on a case-by-case basis. 

The other school with an automatic suspension policy is Western Kentucky University. WKU Spokesman Bob Skipper confirmed the university prohibits travel to countries with State Department level four travel advisories. He said three WKU students are currently in China completing internships through a program administered by the Institute for International Education. Skipper said those students will return to the United States early next week. 

The latest university to announce a travel suspension is Murray State University. University President Bob Jackson made the announcement in an email to the campus community Friday. 

“We remain hopeful that we can resume normal travel schedules in the very near future in furtherance of important academic and cultural opportunities and exchanges,” Jackson said. 

Other universities in the commonwealth are receiving guidelines from administration, but not outright travel suspensions. Northern Kentucky University is encouraging students to exercise common health precautions including hand washing.

A similar sentiment was echoed by officials at the University of Louisville. UofL Provost Beth Boehm in an email to students and faculty said there is “no known risk to the university community,” but students experiencing cold symptoms who have recently traveled abroad should immediately contact campus health services. 

No coronavirus cases have been reported in Kentucky. Health officials said the exposure risk is low.