Villanova students in Italy will be sent home next week as coronavirus outbreak spreads

KYW Staff
February 26, 2020 - 5:30 pm

UPDATED: Feb. 27, 3:10 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Villanova University students who are currently studying abroad in Italy will be brought home next week amid concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, the university said Wednesday.

According to world health officials, more than 400 cases of the new virus have been reported in Italy, with 12 deaths, as of Thursday. Health officials believe more than one-third of those reported cases were likely exposed within the country.

“Given the rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases in northern Italy, we have made the decision to bring home our students who are abroad in Italy,” the university said in a statement. “The university is in close contact with other study abroad programs in which Villanova students are participating and will determine appropriate responses to additional disruptions caused by the coronavirus.”

Spokesman Jonathan Gust said there are 52 total students studying abroad in Italy.

“There were 23 students participating in a Villanova program in Urbino. The remaining students were participating in partner study abroad programs in Milan, Florence and Rome,” he said, which are operated by other universities or study abroad organizations.

The students will leave Italy during spring break next week. Villanova will provide reimbursements on airfare. 

Students will have the option to remain at home after spring break and complete coursework via distance learning, or they can return to campus after they satisfy a 14-day quarantine period.

Meanwhile, Drexel University is suspending student programs in South Korea. Neither Drexel nor Temple are making changes to programs in Italy or Japan. However, Temple officials are urging students in Italy to remain in the country during spring break and forgo other travel, in case the government mandates travel restrictions. 

Villanova is also urging its other students to be mindful of the outbreak when making travel plans for spring break, which is concurrent with Drexel and Temple's breaks next week.

The CDC said COVID-19 — the virus’ formal name — has spread to more than 40 countries, and the U.S. should be prepared. Pennsylvania health officials already have contingency plans in place.

Currently, there are no confirmed cases of the Wuhan virus in Pennsylvania.

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KYW Newsradio's Tim Jimenez, Rachel Kurland and Antionette Lee contributed to this report.