TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Chinese coronavirus outbreak has Washburn University students on lockdown in the country, according to college officials.
Three Chinese students have been unable to come back from their hometown Wuhan, ground zero for the novel coronavirus outbreak and subsequent quarantine. Washburn Director of Public Relations Patrick Early confirmed travel restrictions by the Chinese government have kept them from coming back for the semester.
“None of them are ill,” Early said. “We hope that the travel restrictions will be lifted in the near future so that they can rejoin their classes. Our faculty will stand ready to help them catch up if the delay isn’t too long.”
The Chinese government has blocked off all public transportation in Wuhan and the surrounding cities in the country’s Hubei province, according to the Associated Press. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said it is cutting all rail links to mainland China and halving the number of flights. Some countries are making efforts to evacuate their citizens from affected areas as the number of confirmed cases has risen to 5,974.
While the students are locked in affected mainland China, Early said the Kansas Secretary of Health and Environment has not reported any cases of coronavirus at any Kansas college. However, the department is investigating a possible Douglas County coronavirus case. The resident is currently quarantined at a Lawrence hospital.
Early did confirm Chinese high school students are coming for a campus visit this week.
“We do want to assure the campus community that every precaution is being taken for their visit,” Early said. “They are from the Quzhou and Jinhua region, more than 600 miles from Wuhan. In addition, these students are boarding students confined to the school with little access to the general public during their entire semester and there were no confirmed cases in the area when the students left for their trip.”
Shanghai Pudong Airport security screened the students before they departed China, and they will be screened before entering the U.S., according to Early.
“We look forward to the visit of our high school student visitors as well as to the swift return of our Chinese students,” Early said. “Our international students are a vital part of our effort to bring global understanding to our entire learning community in an increasingly interconnected world.”