Amid a coronavirus outbreak that the World Health Organization declared Thursday to be a global health emergency, all student travel to China from Western Kentucky University has been suspended, WKU spokesman Bob Skipper confirmed to the Daily News on Friday.
In an interview, Skipper said three WKU students are currently in China, all participants in the university’s Chinese Flagship Program, a language education program that culminates in students spending a year in the country.
Having completed their studies there, Skipper said the students will return to the U.S. early next week. A fourth student was scheduled to travel to the country in February, but “he will not go now,” Skipper added.
“At this point, their safety is of paramount concern,” he said.
Skipper told the Daily News that if faculty and staff wish to travel to a region with a Level 3 advisory, they must get approval from WKU’s provost and chief international officer.
The Courier Journal in Louisville was the first to report Friday that WKU, along with the University of Kentucky, had suspended all student travel to China. The Courier Journal reported that all student travel from WKU is suspended to regions under federal travel warnings of Level 3 or 4. On Thursday, the State Department elevated its Chinese travel advisory to Level 4: Do Not Travel.
There are at least six confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus in the U.S., CNN reported Friday. The most recent case was confirmed Thursday and was the first case of person-to-person transmission of the virus in the U.S. No cases have been documented in Kentucky.