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Trinity students advised to cancel study trip to China amid coronavirus fears

A number of colleges have issued advice to their students.

A Chinese worker making surgical masks.
A Chinese worker making surgical masks.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

Updated Jan 29th 2020, 4:00 PM

UNIVERSITY STUDENTS DUE to travel to China next week to study abroad are being advised to cancel their trips due to coronavirus fears. 

Trinity College Dublin has advised its students against visiting the country after the Department of Foreign Affairs upped its warning to avoid non-essential travel to China earlier today. 

A spokesperson for the university said there is a “very small number of students” studying in China, and students due to travel next week to study abroad “are being advised not to”. 

Dublin City University has asked its students based in China to return to Ireland due to the spread of the virus.

DCU has a number of students based in China for the 2019/2020 academic year, though none are based in the Hubei region which is at the centre of the virus.

Similarly, Maynooth University has advised two of its students to return home from China in recent days. 17 students had been studying abroad in China, most of whom came home for the Chinese New Year. 

MU also had around 10 Chinese students due to arrive soon. Some of these have cancelled their trips, the remaining have been asked to “take precautions for a 2 week period after they arrive”, a spokesperson for the university said today. 

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, DCU said of its students:

As a result of the rapidly evolving situation in China, DCU is advising all our students as of this morning to return to Ireland to complete semester two back in DCU and we are making all appropriate arrangements to facilitate this.

A small number of staff and students in the university have visited China in the past month, though again none of them were in the Hubei region.

“As a precaution, all of these individuals have been advised of current WHO coronavirus guidelines. None of them have reported any symptoms,” said the statement.

Caution

Since the outbreak of the virus began in December, more than 50 million people have been locked down in and around the city of Wuhan in the Hubei region. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs today began advising Irish citizens against all non-essential travel to China. 

TheJournal.ie contacted a number of other universities and colleges about the issue of the coronavirus. 

Several institutions including DCU, TCD the University of Limerick and Maynooth University issued warnings to their students about the virus in recent days. 

UL has suspended all university-related travel by staff and students to and from China. There are currently no UL students studying or on placement in China. 

The college issued a notice to staff and students at the university this morning with advice on symptoms and treatment of the coronavirus. 

University College Cork said:

“UCC is monitoring the recommendations from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre on a daily basis, and is acting on these recommendations as they emerge. Following the advice outlined by the Department of Foreign Affairs, UCC has advised its students to expect potential delays and checks when entering or leaving China.

Students have also been advised to exercise the general precautions to limit the spread of any respiratory virus infection and to contact student health or their local health provider if they feel unwell.

A spokesperson for TU Dublin said there has been no instance of students cancelling trips to China. 

“TU Dublin has contacted students currently in China and students who recently returned from China to advise them about the Coronavirus based on the information available,” the spokesperson said.

“The University recommended that any student who was in the Hubei Province in recent weeks, or in contact with someone who may have contracted the virus, should make themselves known to the Student Health Centre for further advice.”

Some students were given information about symptoms of the virus and further details from the HSE. 

Trinity College Dublin said it has set up an expert working group to monitor the situation regarding a potential outbreak of novel coronavirus in Ireland and to develop a plan of action for the university should the need arise.

The working group first met on Monday. 

In a statement it said:

An email has been sent to all students and staff outlining the common signs of infection and the standard recommendations to prevent the spread of infection. Advice for those who may have returned from high-risk areas of China are outlined, along with web links to both the Health Protection Surveillance Centre and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for guidance and guidelines on symptoms and travel.
The working group will meet regularly, including again this week to closely monitor any developments.

The university said that: “The health and well-being of our students and staff is paramount and we will continue to monitor the situation over the coming days and weeks. Further updates will be provided as the situation develops.”

Yesterday, Germany confirmed its first case of the coronavirus, with the patient being in Starnberg, south of Munich. He is medically isolated. 

Nearly all of the dozens of cases outside China involve people who recently travelled from the central city of Wuhan where the outbreak began in December. 

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