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Penn State Orders 14-Day Quarantine, Other Requirements for Some Returning International Travelers

by on March 01, 2020 7:10 PM

Penn State and University Health Services released new travel guidelines and requirements Saturday for students and employees returning from countries with elevated travel notices amid concerns over the global novel coronavirus outbreak.

The university is requiring a 14-day quarantine period for travelers returning from countries designated Level 3 (Avoid Nonessential Travel) by the Centers for Disease Control before they return to campus. Those countries currently include China, Iran, Italy and South Korea.

This policy, which is consistent with the CDC recommendations, requires travelers and their families to isolate themselves from others in their homes while checking for signs and symptoms of illness.

Penn State advises students and employees who return home to maintain good hygiene practices, self-monitor for symptoms, and check their temperature twice a day throughout the 14-day period.

Those returning home from a country with a CDC “Alert Level 2” level, which currently includes Japan, are encouraged to follow the same precautions.

University Health Services included some tips for a home quarantine, which include:

  • Staying home except to get medical care
  • Separating yourself from other people and animals at home
  • Wearing a face mask around other people and animals
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing and washing your hands afterward
  • Washing your hands thoroughly and often
  • Avoiding sharing personal household items
  • Cleaning frequently used surfaces each day
  • Monitoring your symptoms and calling your health care provider before seeking in-person care

Penn State also encourages travelers returning home to be vigilant when traveling domestically upon reaching the United States. Avoiding contact with sick people, liming touching your face, and washing your hands often are recommended precautions.

While wearing a face mask around others is advised for those in quarantine or who show symptoms, the CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

More than 88,000 cases and 3,000 deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, have been confirmed worldwide, the vast majority in China where it originated in late 2019. Italy, Iran and South Korea have seen drastic increases in confirmed cases in the past two weeks. In the United States, there have been 75 confirmed cases as of Sunday, none in Pennsylvania. 

The university on Friday banned university-related travel to China and South Korea and canceled short-term, faculty-led programs in Japan and Italy. It later announced Italy was added to the restricted travel list and had instructed students to begin making travel arrangements to come home from study abroad programs there.

Penn State has established a website for updates on its response to the virus. Additionally, more health tips and precautionary measures for combating the virus can be found here.


Matt DiSanto is a Penn State student and writer for Onward State.
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