LSA junior Joey Fung had planned to go to Beijing this summer to do research for her honors senior thesis in psychology.
But following an advisory to the University community warning against travel to areas affected by Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreaks, Fung decided to cancel her plans.
Provost Paul Courant and Interim Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs Lazar Greenfield sent the e-mail Friday advising students and faculty currently abroad in affected countries to leave immediately.
“Faculty, staff, and students traveling independently in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam are urged to leave these countries promptly, and those planning independent travel to these high-risk areas are urged to defer their plans,” Courant and Greenfield said.
In addition, the advisory noted that the University is canceling or postponing study abroad and other group activities to those regions.
Fung said she was undecided before about whether or not to go to Beijing. She had been planning to work at a university there with a researcher who collaborates with one of her professors.
“The professor I’m working with here contacted me and said it’s probably not a good idea to go to Beijing now,” she said.
Fung said many students she knows have also changed their summer plans.
“I know people who planned to go back to Hong Kong just to find a job or spend summer vacation there who just plan to stay here instead,” she said.
Students have also become concerned about travel to Toronto, the only area outside of Asia that has experienced a significant outbreak. The University has advised students to defer travel to the area.
Rosalyn Williams, a Business School junior at Ryerson University in Toronto, said her school has also advised students not to travel. “I haven’t really been worried about (SARS) but there’s a lot of people going around with masks on their faces,” she added.
Ryerson has also banned nursing students from meeting together because of a student in the program who had treated a SARS patient.
“My friend who’s in nursing … all of her classes have been cancelled,” Williams said.
LSA sophomore Ivan Tsang, whose home is in Toronto, said he is not sure if he is going to go home over the summer.
“I’m scared that if I go home that they won’t let me back in the country,” Tsang said.
Tsang said he became aware of SARS a month ago, when he received a phone call from his parents.
“My dad advised me to stay in my dorm room,” he said.
Tsang said his family has been staying home as much as possible. His father, a medical doctor, has stopped taking walk-in patients, while his mother has been staying extra hours at the hospital where she works, helping to quarantine SARS patients.
“I had originally hoped it would be over before school ended,” he said. “I’m staying at school an extra week but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.” he added.
SARS is a respiratory disease that is spread through the inhalation of droplets from an infected SARS patient who sneezes or coughs. As of Saturday, the World Health Organization reported that a cumulative total of 2,416 SARS cases and 89 deaths have been reported from 18 countries.
The WHO issued an alert on Friday advising travelers to postpone all but essential visits to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Guangdong Province, China, where outbreaks of the disease have been most severe.
The United States has reported 115 cases of the disease, 2 of which are in Michigan’s Kent County.