ISA Worldwide Alerts

The following alerts are to the best of ISA's knowledge gathered from direct observation, U.S. Department of State recommendations, Overseas Security Advisory Council reports, CDC and WHO guidance, and expert consultation. Information is subject to change.

  • China & Worldwide

    January 31st, 2020

    On Thursday, January 30th, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak in China as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.  This announcement allows the WHO to coordinate international efforts and resources in combating the spread of the virus.  Additionally, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) raised its Travel Advisory for China to a Level 4: Do Not Travel and recommends that U.S. citizens not travel to mainland China at this time. The DOS, WHO, and the Center for Disease Control have not recommended travel restrictions to any other country outside China. Based on current information, authorities continue to believe the transmission risk to the general public outside of China is low.  

    For these reasons, the ISA Shanghai program for Spring 2020 has been canceled. ISA staff are working with affected students on alternative program options. As we continue to monitor the situation, ISA has reached out to all students in all program locations to advise on best practices to stay healthy while abroad. ISA will continue to closely monitor the situation, communicate important updates to students and university partners, and update this Worldwide Alert as needed.

    January 28th, 2020

    As of Tuesday, January 28th, Chinese authorities continue to enforce strict travel restrictions in Hubei Province, China in an effort to limit the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.  Additionally, the Chinese government has extended the Lunar New Year holiday until Sunday, February 2nd, delaying the formal start of classes at some schools and universities. Across China, cities have cancelled activities and closed many tourist attractions to discourage public gatherings. Most of the confirmed cases of novel coronavirus remain concentrated within Hubei Province, China, although additional cases have been reported in other countries. Many countries, including Japan and South Korea, have increased health screenings at airports for all travelers coming from mainland China.

    On Monday, January 27th, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its health notice for China and recommended that all travelers avoid nonessential travel to the country.  Similarly, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) elevated its Travel Advisory for China to a Level 3: Reconsider Travel. The CDC and DOS have not changed travel advice for any other ISA program locations at this time.

    As containment measures continue, East China Normal University, ISA's Shanghai host university, announced that the semester start date could not be confirmed. ISA has therefore notified all spring semester students that the program will be delayed and is working with Spring 2020 Shanghai students who wish to pursue other academic options for the semester. ISA does not anticipate any program outside of China to be affected. 

    This is a rapidly changing situation that ISA continues to monitor closely. ISA is communicating best practices for staying healthy while traveling with all ISA spring students.  We will continue to advise students and will update this Worldwide alert accordingly.


    January 24th, 2020

    In December 2019, a viral pneumonia outbreak was reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province, in central China.  Authorities have identified the virus as a novel (new) coronavirus. Current cases of the novel coronavirus have been concentrated in the city of Wuhan, although imported cases have been identified in other parts of China and other countries, including the U.S.  To contain the virus, Chinese authorities have placed strict travel restrictions in and around Wuhan and cities within Hubei Province. Major international airports around the world have increased health screenings for travelers coming from Wuhan.

    On Thursday, January 23rd, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its health notice and advised against all nonessential travel to Wuhan. The same day, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that while they are continuing to monitor the outbreak, the novel coronavirus does not currently represent a public health emergency of international concern.  On January 24th, U.S. Department of State (DOS) raised its Travel Advisory for Wuhan, advising citizens not to travel there. The DOS did not alter its Travel Advisory for the rest of China. 

    At this time, there have been no recommendations by the CDC, WHO, or the DOS against travel to any ISA program location. ISA does not have any program activities in or near Wuhan or the Hubei Province. All ISA programs are currently scheduled to run as normal.  ISA is advising students on best practices to stay healthy while abroad and ISA resident staff remain available to students 24/7 to answer any questions they may have. We are closely monitoring this evolving situation and will communicate updates to students and their home universities.  ISA will also update this Worldwide Alert as necessary.

  • Sydney, Newcastle, Gold Coast, Brisbane

    January 3, 2020

    As of January 3rd, bush fires continue to impact areas of Australia, particularly in parts of the southeastern states of New South Wales and Victoria. Although no ISA program locations have been directly threatened by the current fires, smoke continues to bring the potential of poor air quality and reduced visibility in some cities including Sydney and Melbourne. Air quality has varied and been dependent on day-to-day weather conditions. ISA students with pre-existing respiratory conditions are advised to take necessary precautions by minimizing exercise and strenuous activity outdoors.  

    ISA does not anticipate any changes to students' academic or program calendars as a result of the fires. The ISA Australia resident staff will be available to support and advise students regarding any questions they may have once arriving in the country. ISA continues to monitor the situation and will update this Worldwide Alert as necessary.

    December 13, 2019

    ISA continues to monitor the safety of our Australia program locations in response to ongoing seasonal bush fires. Although the fires have not posed a direct threat to ISA accommodations and universities, smoke has impacted visibility and air quality in Sydney and surrounding areas. Poor visibility resulted in periodic suspension of ferry and boat services in Sydney Harbor; however, Sydney's main airport has remained operational. With regards to air quality, high pollution levels during the week of December 9th did prompt local officials to advise residents to take precaution to protect their health. Pollution levels have been fluctuating daily, but are expected to improve in the coming days due to shifting coastal wind.

    Activities and classes at ISA host universities in Australia have continued as planned. ISA resident staff in Australia have provided frequent updates to students since the start of the bush fire season, advising on safety precautions, including areas to avoid and limiting exercising and time spent outdoors when air pollution levels are high. Students are aware that they can reach out to ISA staff with any questions or concerns. 

    All ISA students in Australia are scheduled to complete their fall programs as scheduled. No changes are expected to ISA spring programs beginning in January and February of 2020. ISA will continue to monitor the situation, communicate with fall and spring students, and update this Worldwide Alert as needed.

    November 11th, 2019

    On Monday, November 11, a state of emergency was declared in New South Wales due to ongoing bush fires around the state.  Local authorities have raised the fire risk warning to the highest level for several locations, including the Sydney metropolitan area. Additionally, fire crews are responding to several bush fires in the state of Queensland. While urban areas remain safe for travel, poor air quality is expected in the coming days for cities including Sydney, Newcastle, Gold Coast, and Brisbane. No ISA student residences are near areas with bush fires.  

    The ISA Australia resident staff have informed all students about the current situation and advised them to not travel to any fire-prone areas, follow local news for updates, and to check in with their families back home. As a precaution, one of ISA’s host universities, the University of Newcastle, has suspended classes for tomorrow, Tuesday, November 12. At this time, no other ISA host institution has canceled classes. Students attending the University of Newcastle have been informed of canceled classes and makeup schedules.  ISA will continue to monitor the situation and will advise students and update this Worldwide Alert accordingly.

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For further information, please refer to ISA’s Health and Safety section, particularly the information regarding the monitoring of world-wide security levels.


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