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UW-Madison suspends programs in Italy amid elevated COVID-19 coronavirus warnings

UW-Madison suspends programs in Italy amid elevated COVID-19 coronavirus warnings

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UW–Madison has suspended all university-sponsored student programs in Italy following elevated warnings from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and State Department in response to the global spread of the new COVID-19 coronavirus.

The university said Saturday it has recalled 170 students who are studying abroad in Italy in accordance with its international travel policy.

"We are working with our partners in Italy to ensure this is accomplished in a safe and orderly manner," the university said in a statement. "Our partner institutions are developing the opportunity for students to complete their planned academic curriculum via distance-learning options."

The university said it made the decision Friday following a CDC warning to avoid nonessential travel to Italy and State Department advisories to reconsider travel to the country and not to travel to the Lombardy and Veneto regions of northern Italy.

UW–Madison said it remains in close coordination with local, state and federal agencies to ensure that decisions made on behalf of students’ well-being are based on the most up-to-date information. 

Last week, UW-Madison suspended exchange programs at two South Korea institutions. Five of its students affected by the suspension were informed Tuesday.

UW-Milwaukee, UW-Stout and UW-Oshkosh also suspended study abroad programs in South Korea, officials said last week. The suspensions affected a dozen students among the three schools, though five of the students had not yet left for their program.

UW-Madison suspended student programs in China last month, which affected seven students.

Other universities across the U.S. started suspending international education programs in Italy last week, including Syracuse University and New York University, which were closing programs at their Florence campuses.

About 83,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide, including more than 2,800 deaths, mostly in China but also in three dozen other countries.

The U.S. has about 60 confirmed cases, with one death reported in the state of Washington. There has been one reported case in Wisconsin  a Dane County resident who has recovered and been released from isolation, health officials said Friday.

In Illinois, health officials announced Saturday night that a third person has tested positive for COVID-19, after two other patients with confirmed cases have made full recoveries.

State and Cook County officials said the unidentified patient is hospitalized in isolation as the test results await confirmation from the CDC.

Officials did not reveal the location of the hospital, and said they're working to determine with whom the patient has been in contact.

Officials said Gov. JB Pritzker requested that all Illinois hospitals “implement additional testing” for the virus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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