Update on Coronavirus and Travel

February 01, 2020

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

Columbia continues to monitor information and expert national and international recommendations regarding the outbreak of a 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) first detected in Wuhan, China. As various recommendations are changing rapidly, we would like to provide you with up-to-date and accurate information. This email includes very important, time-sensitive information for members of the University community who are currently in mainland China, have returned from mainland China in the past 14 days, or have plans to travel to China. 

As you may have seen, the U.S. Department of State has elevated its China travel advisory to Level 4 - Do Not Travel and the United States Health and Human Services Secretary announced that the United States is "temporarily suspending the entry into the United States of foreign nationals who pose a risk of transmitting the 2019 novel coronavirus." Further, effective February 2, any U.S. citizen who has been in Hubei Province in the previous 14 days will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine after returning to the United States. U.S. citizens who have been in mainland China during the previous 14 days and are returning will undergo screening at their port of entry and will be subject to up to 14 days of self-monitoring. At this time, details about exactly how these government policies will be implemented are limited.

All Columbia University affiliates who are currently in China or have returned from mainland China since January 17, 2020 are expected to complete this registration form promptly so that the University can provide you with assistance, instructions, and recommendations regarding self-isolation. Columbia Health will monitor your responses and answer your questions as quickly as possible. The information you provide on the registration form will be secure and will remain confidential. If you have traveled in and returned to the U.S. from China on January 17, 2020 or earlier, no further action is needed. Please also know that Columbia Health has already contacted our students from Hubei.

We ask our faculty colleagues to be prepared to accommodate, to whatever reasonable extent possible, students who are affected by this outbreak including, but not limited to, permitting make-up exams and extending due dates of final assignments and projects.

Note that the travel restrictions for travel to China announced on January 29, 2020 remain in place.

If you are not feeling well—particularly if you are feeling feverish and have an accompanying cough, congestion, or difficulty breathing—please call Columbia Health at Morningside (212-854-7426) or CUIMC (212-305-3400). If you are feeling anxious or are worried about friends and family because of the news about the coronavirus, we encourage you to contact our University resources. Students may contact Columbia Health’s Counseling and Psychological Services or CUIMC’s Mental Health Services. Employees may make use of our Employee Assistance Program. All Columbia affiliates may contact the Office of the University Chaplain. If you have experienced mistreatment, hostile comments, or bias related to concerns about the virus—actions that contradict the core values of the University—please contact your dean of students or the Office of University Life at [email protected]. All of these resources are available to you; please use them.

We will continue to share more information as it becomes available on the University’s Preparedness website.


Ira Katznelson
Interim Provost
Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History

Lee Goldman
Harold and Margaret Hatch Professor
Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine