Sac State suspends study abroad in South Korea due to coronavirus

University says arrangements being made for students’ return

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The first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Sacramento according to Sacramento County's Public Health officials. Pictured is, "Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2" by NIAID. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Madeleine Beck and Chris Wong

Sacramento State suspended all study abroad programs in South Korea Wednesday evening due to the 2019 novel coronavirus’s spread there, according to a press release.

“Sacramento State has made the difficult decision to suspend all Sacramento State Programs in South Korea,” said Sac State Public Information Officer Anita Fitzhugh in the press release. “We are working with students for their immediate return to the United States or to arrange for them to complete the semester with a partner institution abroad.”

Current Sac State students could participate in three exchange programs in South Korea at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Kyung Hee University, and Konkuk University according to the Study Abroad Programs website.

Seven Sac State students are currently studying abroad in South Korea according to Paul Hofmann, associate vice president for International Programs and Global Engagement.

Three students are in exchange programs at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, and two are at Konkuk University. There is one student at both affiliated study abroad programs at Yonsei University and Kookmin University.

No Sac State faculty or staff are in South Korea on university business, Hofmann said.

62 students from South Korea are currently studying at Sac State.

Hofmann said that Sac State is monitoring other countries and regions for potential impact on study abroad programs in other countries.

South Korea reported 334 new cases of the virus Thursday, bringing the country’s total to 1,595.

Sac State halted travel to China, where the virus was first detected, on Jan. 29.

RELATED: Sac State travel to China suspended due to coronavirus

On Wednesday evening, UC Davis News and Media Relations released a memo sent to UC Davis Health employees earlier that day, which confirmed that UC Davis Medical Center is treating a patient for coronavirus. 

UC Davis Medical Center is under two miles west of Sac State. 

The memo was sent via email by David Lubarsky, vice chancellor of human health sciences and CEO of UC Davis Health, and Brad Simmons, interim CEO and chief operating officer for UC Davis Medical Center. 

“This is not the first COVID-19 patient we have treated, and because of the precautions we have had in place since this patient’s arrival, we believe there has been minimal potential for exposure here at UC Davis Medical Center,” the memo said. 

RELATED: First case of coronavirus in Sacramento County confirmed by public health officials

The CDC is investigating this patient as the first person to have been infected within the community, with no known connection to travel abroad or to any person with a confirmed infection. 

“At this time, the patient’s exposure is unknown. It’s possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19, which would be the first time this has happened in the United States,” the CDC said in a media statement

UPDATE: Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020.

This story was updated to reflect additional comment from Sac State University Communications and Paul Hofmann, associate vice president for International Programs and Global Engagement.