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How coronavirus outbreak is affecting Brenau’s China program
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Brenau University has put its scheduled trips to China on hold for student ambassadors and faculty because of the new coronavirus. - photo by Scott Rogers

Brenau University has put its scheduled trips to China on hold for student ambassadors and faculty because of the new coronavirus.

Anne Skleder, the university’s president, provided an update on Monday, Jan. 27, assuring people that Brenau is maintaining its “vigilant dedication to the health and well-being of all university students and employees.”

Skleder said the university has no students or faculty in China now, nor have any returned close to the time of the outbreak.

“We’re fortunate about the timing,” Skleder said on Tuesday. “They returned to campus prior to any of this occurring. We have not been traveling back and forth, and we won’t have travelers back and forth unless we are comfortable that we’re safe to do so.”

Anhui Normal University, located in Wuhu, China, facilitates a Chinese exchange program with Brenau. Students from Anhui Normal complete their last two years of their undergraduate degrees by attending Brenau.

Skleder said Brenau faculty members are offering close support to the Anhui Normal students on campus, expressing concerns for their friends and families in China.

“We’re focused a great deal on providing comfort to our students from China and students not from China,” she said. 

This school year marks the fourth Anhui Normal graduating class to come through Brenau. 

Anhui Normal is in Anhui province, which touches the eastern side of Hubei province. Wuhan is the capital of Hubei, where the first cases of the new coronavirus were identified.

Every semester Brenau sends several faculty members to Anhui Normal to teach the students American English and other American learning styles, to soften the culture shock when they attend Brenau.

Brenau also sends over a group of undergraduate students in May to get to know the Anhui Normal students.

Both of these trips have been postponed until the situation is sufficiently safe, Skleder said. 

She assures the Gainesville community that Brenau is in close communication with Anhui Normal.

“If anything should change, we will update the community,” Skleder said. “If we were not to talk about this, we’d be doing our community a disservice.”

The U.S. has five confirmed cases of the new virus from China — all from those who traveled to the city at the outbreak’s center — according to The Associated Press on Jan. 26. As of Monday, the virus had led to 80 deaths in China.

The Georgia Department of Public Health stated in a Monday press release that it has not confirmed any cases of coronavirus in Georgia.

The department encourages the public to take the same precautions as they would to avoid the flu. This advice entails washing your hands regularly; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; and staying away from people who are sick. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists coronavirus symptomsas: runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever and a general feeling of being unwell.

The Georgia Department of Public Health advises those who have traveled from Wuhan, China, into the U.S. that have symptoms of coronavirus, to seek advice from their health care provider or local health department.

People can reach the Hall County Health Department at 770-531-5679 or by visiting 1290 Athens St. in Gainesville

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