Last updated 10:43 a.m.
Update Tuesday, January 28, 9:50 a.m.: As of 8:40 a.m. Beijing time on January 28, 2,902 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus have been found in China, with 5,794 suspected cases and 82 deaths. 58 individuals have recovered from the virus. The virus has claimed its first case in Cambodia. The total of confirmed infections has reached 43 in those countries. It is worth noting that these statistics are assembled through a nationwide system of an antiquated hospital reporting numbers and a bureaucratic structure with tight control of information. Thus, small blips in the data over a short period of time may not be completely accurate.
Li Yi, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Education Commission, announced yesterday that teachers and students at all levels of school — from universities down to preschools — will be required to wear masks when school resumes (at a date that has yet to be determined). Schools also will be required to set up temperature stations to monitor all people entering the school facilities.
China’s National Health Commission has released the fourth edition plan for the diagnosis and treatment of the novel coronavirus, which you can read here. It lists criteria for checking symptoms, options for treatment and criteria for release from isolation and discharge. A patient’s temperature needs to return to normal for more than 3 days and respiratory symptoms will have to improve significantly.
Across the country and the world, increased measures have been taken to prevent the virus’ spread. Many Chinese people are remaining at home — a dinner we were supposed to have with two Chinese teachers in Harbin was cancelled because they said they cancelled all plans with family and friends. Bus lines in major cities such as Shanghai have no passengers. We are receiving more reports of passengers filling out health declarations with entering or exiting China. Passengers on flights are temperature checked an hour into the flight and many also at their arrival airports.
According to our security advisors at Global Rescue, the following flight routes are affected.
- China: Sichuan Airlines is cancelling all international flights from 9 February-2 March.
- Egypt: Flights to and from China are suspended indefinitely.
- Georgia: Direct flights between China and Georgia are suspended indefinitely.
- Indonesia: Fights between Hang Nadim Airport (BTH) in Batam and two Chinese cities—Shenzhen and Xian—are suspended beginning on 28 January.
- Russia: Ural Airlines is suspending all flights to and from China. The airline typically operates through Hainan, China.
While our team in Beijing was sleeping, both the CDC and U.S. Department of State updated their travel advisories. The CDC now recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, raising their advisory to the highest warning — Level 3. “There is limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas,” the CDC says. The Department of State has issued a Level 3: Reconsider Travel, the second-highest travel advisory, for the entire country. The Level 4 for Hubei Province is still in place. “Chinese authorities are imposing quarantines and restricting travel throughout the country,” the statement reads.
Based on these updates, teams at Middlebury Schools Abroad, CET and Global Rescue have issued statements with new information. According to the Middlebury statement from Assistant Director of International Programs Bill Mayers:
We continue to have some discussions with partners here on campus, and expect to write to you all tomorrow with another, more detailed update of our plans. We are considering both delaying the start of the program (since universities will remain closed through February, at least), and suspending our programs in China for this spring; something we certainly do not relish, but feel compelled by circumstances to seriously consider. We understand that either of these options will have ramifications for you, and we hope to address those in tomorrow’s letter.
Our partners at CET will have another update in the next 48 hours. In the meantime, they present the following information:
CET remains committed to running all programs in Greater China this spring. Following the recommendations of some of our partner universities in mainland China, we will be delaying the start of the spring semester until Thursday, February 27. Students should plan to arrive at their programs on February 27.
The Spring term will run, as planned, through May 31st but adjustments will be made to the semester calendar to ensure that students are able to cover the same amount of material over the course of the term.
Students who are currently in Beijing between semesters have the option of returning home or staying in the Capitol Normal University dorm during the interim. We are hearing that airlines are working with passengers to re-book tickets without penalty. CET will work with any affected students to assure that they have a visa sufficient for the length of the program. We are currently exploring the possibility of offering some instruction or activities during the last two weeks of February.
One of our students was scheduled to participate on a CIEE program in Shanghai. Their statement reads as follows, sent in an email to all affected students at 6:39 a.m. Beijing time on January 28:
By now you have heard of the coronavirus outbreak which began in Wuhan, China and has affected many cities within the country itself. Thankfully we have no reports of any on-site CIEE students or staff being sickened by the coronavirus.
This afternoon, the U.S. Department of State raised the Travel Advisory Level to “Level 3: Reconsider Travel.” That escalation, combined with our institutional partners in China indefinitely delaying the start of their classes, has prompted us to cancel all CIEE programs in China for spring 2020.
At this moment, our worldwide staff is exploring feasible options for all students scheduled to arrive in China and will be in touch within the next 48 hours with detailed information about your academic options with CIEE for spring ’20.
We will continue to monitor the situation throughout the day and will send out another update tonight Beijing time should new information arise. The safety, security and health of all students is of utmost priority.