Alva Review-Courier -

Arkansas universities cancel study abroad amid virus concern


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Several Arkansas universities have canceled study abroad programs in Italy amid fears over the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville announced on Friday it was suspending academic operations at its Rome Center for the rest of the spring semester, and all of its American students there are returning to the U.S.

Forty students had been studying at the Rome Center this semester, along with 60 students from other schools, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville spokesman John Thomas told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The Rome Center has been the university's largest study-abroad program.

Officials at Harding University in Searcy had previously announced they were closing its campus in Florence and pulling its students as a precaution during the illness outbreak in northern Italy.

Italy's first case of the virus was reported Jan. 31. Health officials have reported that Italy has 1,128 cases and 29 deaths.

The viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 87,000 people globally and caused nearly 3,000 deaths. The first U.S. death was reported on Saturday.

No confirmed cases of the virus have been found in Arkansas, state authorities said Friday.


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