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Safety Updates


For all UTSA Coronavirus Updates visit: https://www.utsa.edu/coronavirus/

April 6, 2020


UTSA is closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak globally and is receiving guidance from the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, State of Texas, San Antonio Metro Health and The University of Texas System, in addition to other government and health agencies.

Source: https://www.utsa.edu/coronavirus/

January 31, 2020, 12:00 pm

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). WHO convened for the second time on Jan. 30 regarding the coronavirus and distributed recommendations to address the outbreak. The full statement can be read on the WHO website.

As a result, the U.S. Department of State has upgraded its China travel advisory to a Level 4: Do Not Travel. UTSA has included China as "Extreme Risk" on the Restricted Regions List. UTSA travel to China has been suspended. Please contact global@utsa.edu with any questions.

As of Jan. 31, the coronavirus has been detected in the following areas (ordered highest to lowest by number of cases): China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Macau, South Korea, U.S., France, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Italy, U.K., Vietnam, Cambodia, Finland, India, Nepal, Philippines, and Sri Lanka.

Precautionary Measures
  • Avoid non-essential travel to China
  • Maintain flexible itineraries when traveling and allow for extra time to go through screening procedures at airports, railway and bus stations, and other transportation hubs
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when sneezing and coughing (do not cough or sneeze into your hands)
  • When using a tissue, throw it in the trash immediately after use
  • Do not travel if you are sick
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Thoroughly cook meat and eggs
  • Avoid wet markets and farms
  • Keep a distance from people who are obviously sick or exhibiting flu-like symptoms
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer
  • Try to get sufficient sleep, exercise regularly, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods
  • Stay home when sick
  • Don't eat, drink, or smoke after others
  • Avoid direct contact with animals (dead or alive)
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Seek medical attention if you develop symptoms, especially a fever or shortness of breath
  • Monitor up-to-date information about the virus from the CDC, International SOS, and local media
*Source UT Austin Global Risk and Safety

January 21, 2020, 12:00 pm

An outbreak of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China is being monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additional cases have been confirmed in Thailand, Japan, and South Korea. 

Authorities are imposing travel restrictions and comprehensive screening measures to prevent the spread of the virus. It has been confirmed that the virus can be transmitted by humans.

Read the full update from the CDC here.


Travel Advice
  • Maintain flexible itineraries when traveling and allow for extra time to go through screening procedures at airports, railway and bus stations, and other transportation hubs
  • Do not travel if you are sick
  • Avoid wet markets and farms
  • Keep a distance from people who are obviously sick
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer
  • Avoid direct contact with animals (dead or alive)
  • Seek medical attention if you develop symptoms, especially a fever or shortness of breath
  • Monitor up-to-date information about the virus from the CDC, International SOS, and local media

*Source UT Austin Global Risk and Safety

January 17, 2019, 12:00 pm

Terrorist attacks, political violence (such as demonstrations), criminal activities, and other security incidents can take place abroad at any time without warning. The U.S. Department of State strongly encourages travelers to always maintain a high level of vigilance and have good situational awareness whenever traveling abroad. Always consult the U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisories (country specific) as well as the travel information pages.

The U.S. Department of State provides travelers with general information regarding terrorist activities, political violence, and criminal activity that occur abroad, along with recommendations on how to prepare, receive information on breaking security events, and ensure that travelers can be contacted in an emergency. U.S. government facilities worldwide are always actively monitoring any potential security threats, and as a result may temporarily close or suspend public services (such as embassies) to assess threats. However, U.S. embassies and consulates will still do everything they can to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. Travelers are encouraged to monitor the local news and stay in contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Terrorist groups are most likely to target:

High-profile and well-populated events such as sporting events, political rallies, demonstrations/protests, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.
Hotels, clubs, bars, and restaurants
Places of worship
Schools
Parks
Shopping malls/markets
Popular tourist sites
Public transportation systems
Airports

It is strongly recommended that all travelers enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make contact easier in an emergency. The U.S. Department of State conveys important information about terrorist threats, security incidents, planned demonstrations, natural disasters, and other important events through these security messages. 

In an emergency, always contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, or call: 1 (888) 407-4747 (toll-free in the U.S. and Canada) or 1 (202) 501-444 from other countries.
UTSA students traveling on university-related business should enroll with International SOS (ISOS) to get alerts for global security, safety, and health concerns for the countries they are traveling to.

*Source UT Austin Risk and Safety



China’s Communist Party Congress and Internet Censorship

October 13, 2017, 7:00 am - China’s top officials with gather in Beijing 18 – 31 October for the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  New members of the country’s most important decision-making body—the Politburo Standing Committee—will be announced, including a possible candidate to replace party leader Xi Jinping in 2022 (At the last gathering in November 2012, Xi Jinping established himself as China’s leader).  

Prior the party congress, security agents have started one of the most severe crackdowns in decades, which has a number of activists leaving Beijing for the duration of the summit, and moderate activists have been told not to give interviews to foreign journalists. (The Guardian). During China’s National Party Congress, censorship is typically heightened.

Internet Censorship

In a directive issued summer 2017, the state-controlled association that
polices China’s digital media sector set out 68 categories of material that should be censored. The new restrictions — which expanded and updated a set of prohibitions issued five years ago — reflect an ambitious effort by President Xi Jinping’s government to impose discipline and rein in the web.  (NY Times) 

On September 7, the Cyber Administration of China published a new set of regulations for “internet group information service management” that went into effect on October 8. The rules emphasize the responsibility of managers and service providers to enforce official content restrictions and report violators to “the relevant authorities.”  With these restrictions, there is the potential for large numbers of ordinary internet users and website owners to face targeted censorship, arrest, and criminal prosecution that sets this year’s preparations apart from past congresses. The legal, technological, and administrative tools at the CCP’s disposal in 2017 are significantly more powerful than in 2012, the year of the last leadership rotation. These tools will survive long after the event concludes. (FreedomHouse)

Travelers who use Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and/or Gmail will need to seek alternative ways of communicating while in China. In late September 2017, users in mainland China reported disruptions in the popular communication app, WhatsApp. Other websites and social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest
and other foreign media have been blocked for a number of years in China. The WhatsApp disruptions and subsequent blockage is believed to be pre-emptive ahead of the party congress. (South China Morning Post)

Also ahead of the CCP, Airbnb has removed listings in Beijing due to “external circumstances” throughout the month of October. Other short-term rentals via local services (i.e. Xiaozhu.com and Tujia.com) are unavailable during the same time period. (Straits Times)

Travel Advice
  • Allow time for important journeys around central Beijing, particularly around the Great Hall of the People.
  • While copies of residence permits and the identification and visa page of passports should be accepted in most cases, carrying original personal identification papers (always accepted) will expedite passage through security checkpoints. A card in Chinese characters, not Romanized form, is helpful.
  • Members flying to Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) should contact the airport directly or consult its website to confirm schedules before setting out due to potential for delays during the party congress.
  • Skype currently works. WeChat will not be restricted, but it is forbidden to type sensitive words.
  • Avoid sensitive topics of discussion, including human rights, democratization, Tibet, Taiwan, minority rights and religious freedom. Avoid any protests as a standard precaution. Do not take photographs of demonstrators or officials.
 

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