Update Friday, January 31, 12:30 a.m.: As of 12:19 a.m. Beijing time on January 31, 8,156 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus have been found in China, with 12,167 suspected cases and 171 deaths. 135 individuals have recovered from the virus. Cases of the mysterious new coronavirus in mainland China now outnumber the infections that China saw during the entire SARS outbreak of 2002 and 2003. The World Health Organization is meeting again on Thursday to decide whether to declare the coronavirus epidemic an international public health emergency, as China said that another 38 people had died from the virus. The U.S. will send another evacuation flight to Wuhan on February 3, and the UK will do the same on Friday morning.
According to Caixin, “Health officials have warned second-generation cases of coronavirus are emerging in China’s capital of Beijing, meaning the disease is spreading there, the Beijing Municipal Government Information Office warned Wednesday. While most cases in the city were still imported, multiple clusters had been identified and some cases looked like they had been transmitted within Beijing. There were also asymptomatic cases, meaning people may not realize they had been carrying and spreading the virus.”
Across Beijing, subway officials have announced temperature checks starting on January 31 across the entire network. Beijing’s Daxing International Airport has opened 16 temperature measurement points and 23 temperature check lanes for arriving and departing passengers. Students who have left from Beijing Capital International Airport report thermal camera temperature checks in Terminal 3 and manual temperature checks in Terminal 2. Crowds have been light; however travelers may expect more crowds as the weekend approaches. Students are advised to arrive at the airport with plenty of time.
At Capital Normal University, security guards are becoming increasingly more strict with entering and exiting. Each exit requires the guard to call our Resident Director to seek her approval, similar to crossing the Berlin Wall into the Eastern Bloc (minus the resident director part). The gate closest to our dorm building is blocked to students and can only be used by school personnel from 7-9 a.m., 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m. We must all exit via the main gate, a 7 minute walk away. Even a trip to the supermarket to buy water has become troublesome. Regulations appeared to have relaxed over the course of the day but the situation is constantly changing. Today, many students cancelled their bank cards and phone plans and many left for the airport. As many restaurants are closed, many students resort to eating at McDonald’s or Burger King, should they leave campus. Takeout, once considered a reliable lifeline, can now only be handed through the main gate and as a result has been more troublesome. Many students grouped together for a takeout order for dinner tonight, which may have helped boost morale.
With CET’s cancellation of all mainland China programs for the spring semester (including Sidwell Friends’ China Fieldwork Semester — their resident director is currently leaving Xizhou as tourists have been ordered to leave), options for CET students are as follows:
- CET China: Spring Multi-City: We will operate a semester-length program that begins in Beijing in late April for students looking to earn a semester’s worth of credit. More information on this program is available on our website. Applications are due February 26.
- Defer to Fall semester: Spring students will receive a $500 tuition discount if they are able to defer to fall programs.
- Limited space in Taiwan: We are also working with our partners in Taiwan to increase capacity for our spring program there.
- Full Refund: If you cannot attend an alternative CET program, we will provide a full refund of your program fees.
Students will be notified about the status of the Taiwan program by Friday, January 31. Middlebury has also notified its students that Taiwan is an option; they would join a list below the affected CET students.
We currently have 11 students remaining in our housing in Beijing. Four students and one resident director will leave tomorrow, Friday, January 31. The final student will be leaving on a flight that departs at 6:30 on Saturday afternoon. We will continuously monitor status of flights on foreign airlines coming into China and will advise students should flight rebooking be necessary. We will also continue to monitor airport conditions.
We will continue to monitor the situation throughout the day and will send out another update in the near future should new information arise. The safety, security and health of all students is of utmost priority and we will work from Beijing, DC and Vermont to ensure a smooth and successful repatriation for all students.