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Montana University System Bans Travel To China Over Coronavirus Concerns

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The Montana University System is prohibiting all university-related travel to China until further notice. That announcement Friday as world health officials work to contain the spread of the emerging coronavirus outbreak.

There are no known coronavirus cases in Montana and the state’s university system says it’s doing its part to keep it that way. The closest known case is in Washington state.

The 16 colleges and universities that make up the Montana University System, have banned all travel to China for the foreseeable future.

"After following this for a number of days and with the latest State Department upgrade of a Level 4 alert for travel to mainland China, we got together here at the University of Montana and made the decision to cancel a study-abroad trip which was to embark in March to China," says University of Montana spokeswoman, Paula Short.

Short says the status of a couple of additional UM trips to China planned for later this year will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Short says she’s aware of no UM faculty, staff or students currently in China on university business.

However, Short says some Chinese students are currently studying on the mountain campus in Missoula.

"They are of course in the midst of a regular semester, so I don’t know what travel plans might have been impacted, at least in the near term. As this outbreak endures and other things happen that may have an impact on students, particularly near the end of the semester," Short says.

The Coronavirus, a highly contagious, pneumonia-like illness that infects the respiratory tract is responsible for at least 258 deaths in China.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
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