Global Risk & Safety

Travel Alerts

 

Global Health Advisory - Do Not Travel

March 19, 2020 - The U.S. Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel.

Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.

 

U.S. Travel Restrictions from Europe

March 11, 2020 – Following President Donald Trump’s announcement that all travel from Europe – with the exception of the United Kingdom – to the United States will be suspended on March 13 at midnight. Ohio State has messaged all participants on Ohio State supported travel in those locations to offer assistance in making arrangements to return to the United States. The proclamation does not apply to U.S. citizens, green card holders and lawful permanent residents and it can be viewed at Homeland Security.

 

Semester and Academic Year International Experiences

March 11, 2020 – Ohio State messaged all travelers on semester and academic year university supported international experiences strongly recommending they return to the United States. The university has offered to work with travelers on university supported experience to defray any unreimbursed costs and explore options for academic credit to complete their education abroad experience.

Although travelers were not obligated to leave their programs to return to the United States, the university referenced the unpredictable environment as rationale for its recommendation. The continuing response by nations and governments, including border closures, entry restrictions, quarantines and curtailment of universities and other public services, could put travelers at risk. As coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads, travelers remaining in their host country may face temporary restrictions on their movement and/or limited access to routine health care.

Additional information on Ohio State’s response to COVID-19 can be found on the Wexner Medical Center website


University Travel Restrictions Update

March 10, 2020 – President Michael Drake has issued a comprehensive update on Ohio State’s response to the international viral outbreak of 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19). The update includes temporary restrictions on university-supported international travel. The Office of International Affairs is working with senior university leadership on application of this guidance for travelers currently abroad. Initial messaging was provided to travelers last night, with further guidance anticipated. Additional information on Ohio State’s response to COVID-19 can be found on the Wexner Medical Center website.

 

Spring Break Pre-Departure Update

March 4, 2020 - Ohio State has been closely monitoring COVID-19 and its impact on international travel. Based on the issuance of CDC Warning Level 3 travel health notices, the university has suspended university-supported travel including education abroad programs in China, South Korea and Italy. For more information on Ohio State’s response to recent CDC guidance for student travel, please refer to the Office of International Affairs travel alerts page.

Spring break destinations for Ohio State students do not have current CDC travel health notices or similar risk indicators, and programs are on schedule to travel. However, Ohio State understands not all student travelers and their families will share the same risk tolerance.

As a result, Ohio State has offered all students participating in university-sponsored international experiences over spring break the option to withdraw from their program. Students choosing to withdraw will have their program fee credited to their statement of account and will not be subject to the cancellation policy.

 

Ohio State Response to CDC Guidance for Student Foreign Travel for Institutions of Higher Education

March 2, 2020 - The Ohio State University community should be aware that on March 1 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued additional guidance to institutions of higher education for student travel abroad as it relates to COVID-19.

Ohio State’s protocol for determining travel risk has always given primacy to the CDC travel health notice system, and we are adhering to its recommended guidance. Utilizing the CDC guide, Ohio State weights the CDC issuance of a Warning Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel as equivalent to a U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory of Level 4: Do not travel. Any country or region with either designation is elevated to our highest tier of risk, and Ohio State supported student travel is restricted pending assessment of the notice.

Accordingly, as the CDC issued Warning Level 3 notices for ChinaSouth Korea, and Italy, Ohio State swiftly moved to suspend current programming, reach out to students in the impacted locations and offer support and resources to depart the location and return to the United States. These decisions are not taken lightly as they present complications for student academic continuity and curtail an experience that students diligently planned for and expected to be a hallmark of their university career.

Although previously indicated in Ohio State’s risk designated scale, it should be clear in the midst of the challenging response to COVID-19 that if any new CDC Warning Level 3 notice is issued, Ohio State will suspend travel to the region or location for at least the duration the travel notice remains in effect.

Ohio State also utilizes the guidance within a CDC Alert Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions notice.The current COVID-19 related notice issued for Japan advises postponing nonessential travel for those individuals with chronic medical conditions. Any student enrolled in a current program or committed to a future program in Japan has been advised to consult their treating medical provider concerning travel. Students providing documentation from their treating medical provider will be supported in withdrawing from the program.

For those locations with a Watch Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions we advise students to consult the content and follow the professional guidance of the CDC. In following the CDC advice, we do not immediately postpone or cancel travel. For those countries with no specific travel notice, all students are informed to consult the CDC country information for their travel, and to schedule a travel consultation with the trained travel medical providers at the Wilce Student Health Center or the medical professional of their choice. During travel, they are provided comprehensive medical coverage through an insurance plan by GeoBlue.

Ohio State realizes it is commonplace for institutions to state that monitoring the CDC, U.S. DOS and other professional resources is part of routine practice. However, we want to assure travelers that the advice forms the basis of our consistent commitment to the health and safety of our students.

 

Warning Level 3 - Coronavirus in Italy

February 28, 2020 (6 p.m. EST) - Ohio State is aware that the CDC had raised its travel health notice for Italy to Warning Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel. Ohio State will be reaching out to all students traveling in Italy, to begin preparations for their return to the United States.

 

Status Update for COVID-19

February 28, 2020 (3:30 p.m. EST) - A synopsis of the current status of Ohio State’s response to COVID-19 specific to international travel and education abroad programming.

Ohio State will continue to monitor resources from the CDC, WHO and U.S. Department of State throughout the weekend, and notify travelers of any relevant updates or changes to Ohio State travel. Additional information on Ohio State’s preparedness and response to COVID-19 is available on the Wexner Medical Center website.

 

U.S. DOS Travel Alert for Nairobi, Kenya

February 27, 2020 - Ohio State is aware that the U.S. Embassy Nairobi issued a Security Alert this morning concerning a potential terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya. There are currently 7 known Ohio State students conducting medical rotations in Kenya. Their site is well outside of Nairobi, and not subject to the security risk indicated in the alert. All students have been sent general guidance from Ohio State regarding the Alert. Ohio State has been in contact with officials within the U.S. Department of State, the Overseas Security Advisory Council and peer universities with staff in Nairobi to seek further information on the Alert. If further action needs to be taken, the students will be informed.


Updated Travel CDC Notices for COVID-2019 Coronavirus

February 25, 2020 - Ohio State is actively monitoring the updated CDC Travel Health Notices issued for COVID-19 coronavirus.

The CDC currently maintains Warning Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel notices for:

Novel Coronavirus in China

Coronavirus in South Korea

In accordance with the CDC advice and Ohio State’s protocol for risk designated travel, the university has taken the following actions:

  1. China: a temporary suspension on all university-supported travel by faculty, staff and students to China is currently in effect through April 20, 2020. Information on travel restrictions to China can be found in the travel alert issued February 23 and Ohio State’s full statement on COVID-19 coronavirus is available on the Wexner Medical Center website.
  2. South Korea: A travel alert has been posted announcing the temporary suspension on all university-supported student travel to South Korea through April 20, 2020. At present, this does not impact faculty and staff travel.

In addition, the CDC has issued the following travel health notices (as of February 23, 2020):

Alert Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions

Coronavirus in Japan

Coronavirus in Italy

Coronavirus in Iran

Watch Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

Coronavirus in Hong Kong

Updates and additional notices are published on the CDC website: Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel.

Ohio State Students Currently Abroad Spring Semester

The CDC Alert Level 2 and Watch Level 1 travel health notices do not recommend cancelling, postponing or suspending travel. Ohio State currently has education abroad students on programs in Italy and Japan. At present Ohio State is not suspending spring 2020 programming in these locations.

Students currently abroad have been sent messages advising them of the notices and the importance of following key prevention measures:

  1. Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
  2. It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  4. Avoid contact with people who are sick.

Current travelers are also advised to monitor and follow guidance from the ministry of health with their host country in addition to the general travel guidance of the CDC and the World Health Organization.

Travelers requiring medical attention should follow the protocol of local health authorities for notification of medical officials. The GeoBlue insurance can be used to access local providers and initiate coverage of claims for medical care.

Ohio State Students Planning Education Abroad Travel for Summer Term 

For countries such as Japan and Italy, the Alert Level 2 does specifically advise “older adults and those with chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe disease. People in these groups should discuss travel with a healthcare provider and consider postponing nonessential travel.” Ohio State advises any traveler fitting this description to speak with their treating medical provider regarding their planned travel itinerary. Travelers with medical concerns documented by their treating provider should speak with the unit sponsoring their travel concerning withdrawals. 

Should further notices be issued for additional countries, Ohio State will adhere to the same protocol of following the CDC guidance in consultation with medical leadership in the Office of Student Life Student Health Services and the Wexner Medical Center and university experts in public health and infectious disease.

Ohio State will continue to monitor the advice of the CDC, the U.S. Department of State and the guidance of public health officials in the host countries.

Additional updates on university guidance on travel and COVID-2019 preparedness will be posted on the Office of International Affairs Travel Alerts webpage and the Wexner Medical Center website.

 

South Korea - Warning Level 3 Avoid Non-Essential Travel

February 25, 2020 – In response to the CDC issuance of a Warning Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel Coronavirus in South Korea, Ohio State has suspended university-supported student travel to South Korea.

In following this protocol, Ohio State supported student travel is impacted in the following manner.

Spring 2020 travel

  1. Ohio State has two students currently enrolled in an education abroad program in Seoul, South Korea. Their program sponsor has announced a suspension of the program, and Ohio State is working with the students to facilitate their immediate return home.
  2. Additional undergraduate travel for the Spring 2020 semester is suspended while the CDC Warning Level 3 is in place. Ohio State will evaluate the temporary suspension at the point the CDC travel health notice is lowered.
  3. Graduate travel would require submission of an assessment to the International Travel Policy Committee, and review and approval by the Office of the Provost

Summer 2020 travel

  1. Ohio State has multiple programs scheduled to travel to South Korea in summer 2020. At this point those programs are not suspended.
  2. However, should the CDC Warning Level 3 remain in place, programming would not move forward.
  3. Ohio State will be evaluating those programs. Updates will be posted to the OIA Travel Alerts page and communicated to students by their Office of International Affairs program coordinator.

At this point, there are no restrictions on faculty or staff travel to South Korea. There are also no current reporting requirements on university or personal travel to and from South Korea. The university committee on COVID-19 coronavirus response will evaluate the impact of the CDC Warning Level 3 on additional university travel to South Korea. Any updates will be communicated by the Office of the Provost and leaders of Ohio State’s medical health teams and posted to the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center website.

Ohio State is aware of additional CDC travel notices for other countries. Those will be addressed in an additional OIA Travel Alert.

 

Updated Travel Restrictions Due to COVID-2019 Coronavirus

February 23, 2020 - The Ohio State University, in accordance with the guidance of the CDC and U.S. Department of State, has extended the temporary suspension on all university supported travel to mainland China through April, 20 2020. Ohio State’s full statement on COVID-2019 coronavirus is available on the Wexner Medical Center website.

In following this protocol, Ohio State supported student travel is impacted in the following manner. Mainland China Any Ohio State supported undergraduate travel to China is suspended through April 20, 2020. Ohio State supported graduate student travel prior to April 20, 2020 will require submission of an assessment to be authorized by the Office of the Provost.

  1. The Office of International Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences have made the decision to preemptively suspend the Global Priority Access Global May China program for summer 2020. The summer 2020 program had a start date of May 3. The university plans to resume the program in summer 2021.
  2. The Office of International Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences are currently assessing the viability of the Intensive Chinese Language Program in Suzhou scheduled to start June 5.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is currently rated Tier 2: Specific Risk on Ohio State’s risk designated scale. Ohio State supported undergraduate travel to Hong Kong remains suspended through summer 2020, and graduate travel currently requires approval of a travel assessment.

Macau and Taiwan

The temporary restrictions on travel do not pertain to Macau or Taiwan.

Additional travel to Asia-Pacific Region

Ohio State is monitoring the COVID-19 coronavirus through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of State. This information is reviewed in consultation with university medical directors and campus experts in epidemiology and infectious disease. At this point, there have been no restrictions on travel or suspension of programs based on the professional resources.

Personal travel and travel to China

This Travel Alert does not address personal travel to China or university protocol for inbound travel from China. University reporting requirements for personal travel and guidance for travelers returning from China are addressed in the university COVID-2019 coronavirus update available on the Wexner Medical Center website.

 

Travel Restrictions Due to Novel Coronavirus (2019-NCOV in China)

January 30, 2020 - The Ohio State University, in accordance with the guidance of the CDC and U.S. Department of State, has temporarily suspended all university supported travel to China through March 6, 2020. Ohio State’s official Coronavirus update is available on the Wexner Medical Center website.

In following this protocol, Ohio State supported student travel to China is impacted in the following manner:

  1. Ohio State supported undergraduate travel to China is suspended through at least March 6, 2020. Ohio State travelers scheduled to depart during this period have already been redirected by changes initiated by their programs.
  2. Ohio State sponsored summer 2020 programs to China, including undergraduate and graduate study abroad programs, remain on schedule. Assessment of summer programs will be conducted in late February, in line with the assessment to extend or curtail the restriction on March 6, 2020.
  3. Ohio State supported graduate student travel prior to March 6, 2020 will require submission of an assessment to be authorized by the Office of the Provost. (Details of this process are forthcoming.)

Currently, the temporary travel restriction does not apply to travel to Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan. However it should be noted that Hong Kong is currently rated Tier 2: Specific Risk on Ohio State’s risk designated scale. Ohio State supported undergraduate travel to Hong Kong has been previously suspended through summer 2020, and graduate travel currently requires approval of a travel assessment.

Presently, the CDC and U.S. Department of State alerts for 2019-cNOV Coronavirus do not extend to additional countries and the Ohio State travel restriction is only for mainland China. However students traveling to other countries in East and Southeast Asia should verify if their itineraries transit through China. Travel connecting in China for onward transit to a third country is not restricted at this time. However, use of the 72-hour transit visa for short-term stays in China is restricted. Multiple international carriers are scaling back flight operations to China, which may also impact travel itineraries. Travelers routing through China should contact their airline or travel provider to verify the status of their itinerary and request an alteration of their itinerary to allow an immediate transfer onward to their final destination.

This Travel Alert does not address personal travel to China or university protocol for inbound travel from China. University reporting requirements for personal travel and guidance for travelers returning from China are addressed in the university Coronavirus update available on the Wexner Medical Center website.

 

Novel Coronavirus (2019-NCOV in China)

Updated on January 28 to reflect DOS increase in Travel Advisory to Level 3
Updated on January 24 to reflect U.S. DOS guidance to restrict all travel to Hubei province

Updated on January 23 to reflect CDC guidance to restrict travel to Wuhan.

January 22, 2020 - Ohio State is monitoring the evolving outbreak of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Ohio State is actively engaged in China, including Wuhan University. However Ohio State presently has no known travelers in Wuhan.

Ohio State is aware of both the CDC Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel for China and the U.S. Department of State increase in the Travel Advisory to Level 3: Reconsider travel and updates will be forthcoming. 

Consideration of current and future international travel is taken in consultation with a committee comprised of Ohio State professionals in epidemiology and infectious disease and led by the Chief Clinical Officer and Senior Associate Vice President for Health Sciences at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. In addition, we are following updates from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In line with the current guidance, Ohio State is not presently restricting travel to China or other locations where 2019-nCOV has been identified. However, in accordance with the CDC Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel health notice and U.S. DOS travel advisory, Ohio State travelers are advised to restrict all current travel to the city of Wuhan and the entire Hubei province. Individuals within China should consider the impact of China's capacity to curtail movement prior to traveling away from their primary location. Those planning travel to locations where 2019-nCOV is present are advised to:

  1. Avoid contact with people showing symptoms of acute respiratory infections (cold or flu like symptoms)
  2. Avoid close contact with live or dead farm or wild animals, including visiting animal markets, production facilities or consuming animal products (such as uncooked meat or eggs)
  3. Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand cleansing should be practiced after coughing or sneezing, coming into contact with sick individuals; before, during and after preparing food; before eating; after toilet use and after coming into contact with animals or animal waste. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  4. Travelers who are older or have compromised immune systems are advised to consult with their treating medical provider prior to undertaking travel. All travelers are advised to have a pre-travel medical consultation.

Given the early nature of the outbreak, Ohio State will continue monitoring professional resources. Updates or changes to this advice will be posted on the Ohio State Travel Alerts page.

 

Impact of Australian Bushfires

January 8, 2020 - Ohio State is actively monitoring the impact of the devastating bush fires in Australia. The primary resources being monitored are the fire services of each individual state or territory. While fires are widespread, there has not been a significant impact on the urban areas where programming is scheduled. Currently Ohio State only has one student studying in Australia. Additional students are planning to depart when Australian universities resume their academic year in late February. The bush fire season typically concludes in February/March.

At this point, Ohio State has not cancelled or relocated any programming. Travelers with respiratory conditions or sensitivity to air quality concerns are advised to speak with their treating medical provider and prepare to travel with knowlege and information about health resources. All travelers are also advised to consult with local resources, including regional fire services before undertaking extracurricular travel within Australia. Advice by Australian authorities to defer travel to or depart from areas should be duly followed.