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.

  • February 29, 2020

    On February 28th, the U.S. Department of State raised its travel advisory for Italy to a Level 3: Reconsider Travel due to an increase in the number of new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), particularly in northern Italy.  Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reissued its travel notice for Italy, encouraging all travelers to avoid nonessential travel to the country until further notice.  In light of these developments, ISA has decided to cancel all Spring 2020 programs in Italy.  The ISA resident staff in Milan, Florence, and Rome have communicated with all ISA students and will assist them in returning to the U.S.  ISA is in contact with all host institutions in Italy to discuss the academic options available for students to complete their coursework from a distance.  We will continue to communicate with students and our university partners regarding these options.


    In Japan, new cases of COVID-19 continue to be reported in multiple regions across the country.  Authorities in Japan are currently implementing measures to contain the virus, including some travel restrictions, closures of primary and secondary schools, and increased health screenings at airports.  The ISA Spring program in Tokyo is scheduled to begin on March 22nd, and ISA will continue to provide updates to upcoming students regarding their program.  At this time, neither the CDC nor the DOS recommend canceling travel in Japan for healthy travelers.


    ISA continues to monitor the situation worldwide with the COVID-19 virus.  We continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC, WHO, the U.S. State Department, and our trusted security partners.  We have communicated with all ISA students worldwide to inform them of the situation, remind them of standard health practices, and inform them of ISA’s travel restrictions for independent student travel to China, Korea, and Italy until further notice.


    ISA will continue to closely monitor the situation and will update this Worldwide alert as necessary.


    February 27, 2020


    On February 11th, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced an official name for the novel coronavirus: COVID-19. Although most cases are still concentrated in Hubei Province, China, there have been a number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in other countries, including the U.S.

    ISA is closely monitoring developments on COVID-19. ISA Resident Staff are advising students across all ISA program locations on best practices to stay healthy while abroad and providing guidance on independent travel. With the exception of Spring 2020 programs in China and South Korea, all ISA programs are currently running as planned.

    Please note developments in the following ISA locations.  



    Beginning Friday, February 21st, a new cluster of COVID-19 cases was identified in South Korea.  The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced there is sustained community spread occurring  particularly in the Daegu and Cheongdo areas (approximately 235km southeast of Seoul). On Monday, February 24th, the CDC elevated their Travel Notice for South Korea to a Warning Level 3, advising travelers to avoid non-essential travel to South Korea.  In light of these developments, ISA has cancelled all Spring 2020 programs in South Korea. ISA staff has communicated with all South Korea students regarding the cancellation of their program. ISA is working with affected students on returning to the U.S. and advising on alternative program options.  



    On Monday, February 24th, the CDC issued an Alert Level 2: Practice Enhanced Precautions in Italy due to a new cluster of COVID-19 cases in northern Italy (mostly Lombardy and Veneto regions). The CDC notice does not recommend cancelling or postponing travel to Italy, but at this time, ISA does recommend against traveling to areas and townships that are under quarantine in the Lombardy and Veneto regions.  Following precautionary guidance from the local government, ISA’s two host institutions in Milan, Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (NABA) and Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, announced that all campus activities and classes would be suspended from February 24rd through 29th.  This announcement is due to an abundance of caution, and ISA is not aware of any confirmed COVID-19 cases on either host university campus.  Classes at both institutions are expected to resume on Monday, March 2nd.  The ISA Milan resident staff has communicated with all students regarding canceled classes this week, reminded students to keep up with assignments from professors, and encouraged them to stay in contact their families in the U.S. Classes on campus at ISA host institutions in Rome and Florence continue to run.



    On Saturday February 22nd, the U.S. Department of State raised its Travel Advisory for Japan to a Level 2, the second lowest on a four-tier system, and encouraged travelers to exercise increased caution due to the new cases of COVID-19.  Additionally, on Monday, February 24th, the CDC issued an Alert Level 2: Practice Enhanced Precautions in Japan. The updated travel advisories remind travelers that many cases of COVID-19 are individuals who have recently traveled to China or had contact with someone who had recently traveled to China, but sustained community spread is occurring in some areas. Neither the DOS nor the CDC recommend cancelling travel to Japan. The ISA Tokyo Spring 2020 program will begin March 21st and is scheduled to run as normal.


    ISA will continue to monitor the situation closely, communicate with students and university partners, and update this WWA accordingly.

  • 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.

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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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