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Coronavirus: UNC announces new travel restrictions as COVID-19 cases spread across the United States

Coronavirus: UNC announces new travel restrictions as COVID-19 cases spread across the United States 1
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) — The University of North Carolina announced new travel restrictions for students, faculty and staff as the novel coronavirus, more specifically known as COVID-19, continues to spread across the country and around the world.

UNC, along with Duke and NC State, previously suspended study abroad programs in countries dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks. Now, UNC is restricting travel within the United States.

The restriction means University-affiliated travel won’t be permitted to any state where a state of emergency related to COVID-19 has been declared. As of March 5, that includes California, Florida and Washington.

UNC is also discouraging any personal travel to these states. Anyone who chooses to go to these states may be asked to do a 14-day self quarantine off campus before returning.

The university has prohibited travel to China, South Korea, Iran and Italy; travel to Japan is being restricted. Any student, faculty or staff returning from these countries will have to complete the 14-day off campus quarantine.

“We did not come to these decisions lightly and did so with the health and well-being of our entire community in mind, while also following federal and state guidelines,” Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said in an emailed statement.

These restrictions come a day after Wake County health officials downplayed the threat from COVID-19.

“At this time, there is no reason for the public to panic,” Wake County Division of Public Health Director Chris Kippes said during a press conference Wednesday.

WATCH: Full Q&A with Wake County Public Health officials

COVID-19 effects

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COVID-19 has infected more than 93,000 people globally and has claimed more than 3,000 lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 80 confirmed cases in 13 states in America. A total of nine people have died from the virus.

The current global mortality rate from the virus is 3.4 percent, but experts said that number will continue to fluctuate (and most likely decrease) as the virus spreads).

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elizabeth Tilson said most people who develop COVID-19 symptoms do not have major complications from the disease.

“What we are finding is that for COVID-19, the vast majority of people — more than 80 percent–have minor symptoms,” Tilson said.

RELATED | What to do if you think you have COVID-19 coronavirus symptoms

Tilson said she expects the mortality rate will drop over time.

“Older people, with underlying health conditions, seem to be at higher risk,” Tilson said. “We see that children seem to fare very well. Only about 1 percent of the cases have been identified in children and seem to fare very well.”

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