The University of Missouri will bring its students in Italy home and cancel all study abroad trips there, spokesman Christian Basi said Tuesday.


University-sponsored travel to San Antonio, Texas, also has been canceled after that city declared a public health emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, Basi said. It’s the first instance of MU restricting travel within the U.S.


Both actions are being taken because of concern over the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.


"We were notified yesterday that our provider who coordinates the study abroad programs canceled all travel to Italy," Basi said. "Because of that, we’re requiring our students in Italy to come home."


The 23 students are in several programs and spread throughout the country, Basi said. The university had previously just begun working with individual students and their parents and with public health officials about a course of action.


"We’ll try to get them back as soon as we can and as safely as we can," Basi said.


The university would work with the students to ensure their academic progress isn’t interrupted, Basi said.


All faculty, staff and student travel to countries with a Level 3 travel warning from the Centers for Control and Prevention is temporarily banned. That now includes Italy, South Korea, China and Iran. If other countries are placed on the CDC list, the travel ban will apply to them automatically, Basi said.


The university previously announced travel bans to South Korea and China.


"This is a very unfortunate situation, not of anyone’s making," Basi said. "We’re working in the best interest of our students and most importantly in the best interest of their safety."


Worldwide, more than 90,000 people have been sickened and 3,100 have died, the Associated Press reports. The number of countries hit by the virus has reached at least 70.


In Italy, the count of infected people climbed to 2,036 with 52 dead.


rmckinney@columbiatribune.com


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