Georgetown University announced further restrictions on university-sponsored travel outside of the country, as well as screening requirements for any community members returning from select countries. This decision was based on concerns about the coronavirus rapidly spreading across the globe.
The ban will cover all international travel for activities not “academically necessary,” including student organization trips, athletic and academic competitions, and alternative spring break programs, according to a university announcement. In addition, the ban prohibits university travel to Italy, China, South Korea, and Iran.
The infection caused by the coronavirus, known as Covid-19, has resulted in more than 88,000 cases and over 3,000 deaths globally. There have been over 100 cases and six deaths in the United States. Multiple experts suggest that the virus will likely continue to spread in the U.S.
International concerns about the virus have proven immense, causing the worst week for the stock market since the 2008 financial crisis.
At a country-wide level, the use of travel bans to slow the spread of infectious diseases such as Covid-19 has been criticized by infectious disease experts, including some from Georgetown, who say their efficacy is limited.
Several countries, including the U.S., have ignored World Health Organization guidelines against restricting international travel in response to Covid-19. The U.S. has implemented travel restrictions for China and Iran.
The university previously placed a moratorium on university-sponsored travel to China and South Korea and canceled its Villa Le Balze program in Italy on Feb. 28.
“We recognize the impact that these travel restrictions have on our community. The steps outlined above are taken in the best interest of the well-being of our community, and only after significant consultation; we do not take these actions lightly,” Provost Robert Groves wrote in today’s announcement.
Federal officials have warned that school and workplace shutdowns may become necessary as the virus continues to spread domestically.
“While there have been no reported cases of coronavirus with any connection to Georgetown, we are monitoring the situation closely. We are taking a number of steps to ensure the health and safety of our community, including staying in regular contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the DC Department of Health, and working with these organizations to prepare for any scenarios that might arise,” a university spokesperson wrote in an email to the Voice.