Princeton students who visited China asked to self-quarantine amid coronavirus fears

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A group of Princeton University students has been asked to self-quarantine because they recently traveled to China and there is concern that they could have been exposed to a virus that has claimed the lives of hundreds of people.

Students, faculty and staff who have returned from China in the last 14 days were being evaluated and placed into one of three categories: low, medium and high risk. Those in the low-risk category will not have to be isolated, according to university officials.

Low-risk individuals are those who may have gone to mainland China, but did not have any close contact with anyone confirmed to have the coronavirus. These people will be allowed to go to classes, school events and extracurricular activities.

Those who are in the medium- or high-risk category will be able to get academic support while in isolation. Princeton officials say that fewer than 20 students are being assessed for self-quarantine.

The university has also stopped all outbound school-sponsored travel to mainland China until further notice

Some Princeton students tell News 12 New Jersey that they are glad that the school is taking a potential coronavirus outbreak seriously.

RELATED: China virus death toll rises to 425, total cases now 20,438 
RELATED: Gov. Murphy sets up panel to coordinate on Chinese coronavirus outbreak 

"I think that when a new strain of virus comes that we don't have antibodies or resistance for - we should be able to take the utmost precautions when something like that comes,” says senior Alexander Gottdiener. “So, while the coronavirus may not necessarily be completely deadly, and it might not be as huge an epidemic as, say Ebola, it’s still something we should watch for."

Student Alex Luo is one of the students who self-quarantine. He traveled to Shanghai to celebrate Chinese New York with his family. He is considered low-risk but decided to remain in quarantine.

“I thought it almost my duty to self-quarantine to protect the larger community in the off-chance I was infected. But that sentiment is clearly not shared among not just travelers, but the general public,” Luo said in a statement to News 12.

The virus is responsible for 425 deaths in China, with over 20,000 people infected. About 150 cases have been reported in two dozen other countries – including 11 cases in the United States.

There are no cases of coronavirus in New Jersey. But Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday that he was forming a task force with state and federal health officials to keep New Jersey residents updated on the situation.


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