UT-Austin restricts undergraduate travel to China due to coronavirus outbreak

Brooke Ontiveros

The University added China to its UT Restricted Regions list Wednesday, barring undergraduates from traveling to the country, Texas Global announced in an email. 

Texas Global oversees UT’s study abroad programs. According to the email, this move is a response to the increase in confirmed coronavirus cases in China as well as worldwide. China is classified on the Restricted Regions list as “High Risk” due to a level 3 travel warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Coronavirus is a viral respiratory illness. The newest version to infect humans, 2019-nCoV, has over 6,000 cases globally this year, 78 of which happened outside of China. The new virus was first discovered in December and has killed 132 people, according to the World Health Organization.  

According to Texas Global’s website, UT students and employees must follow UT’s travel policy if they are traveling internationally for any UT-sponsored, administered or related activities, such as research, internships, conferences and study abroad programs. 

UT faculty, staff and graduate students may only travel if the University’s International Oversight Committee’s Restricted Regions Review Committee approves. The committee will only consider essential travel petitions that are sent four to six weeks before departure, according to the University’s Restricted Regions list.

Other countries in the University’s restricted regions considered high risk are Chad, El Salvador and Nicaragua. For level 3 warnings, the CDC suggests avoiding all nonessential travel with no precaution available to protect against the identified increased risk, according to the Restricted Region criteria.

Texas Global requires approved travelers to China to have safety plans, and returning travelers must follow protocols set by the University regarding arrival back to campus. Travelers are required to consent to these protocols before departure. The International Oversight Committee holds the right to take disciplinary action, such as withdrawal of travel authorization or withholding of reimbursement, for noncompliance with the UT travel policies, according to Texas Global’s website.

All confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States originated with residents who had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, according to CNN. Students at Baylor and Texas A&M showed symptoms of the virus but tested negative.