Another Victim of Coronavirus: ICGL Study Tours

Scientists work on a transportation isolation system to examine the epidemic as it continues to spread across the world. Photo: Military Health System

Few suspected that 2020 would be the year that would begin with a viral pandemic that has sickened over 97,000 people worldwide and caused more than 3,300 deaths, including 14 in the United States as of March 6.

While the coronavirus has been around for years, this particular strain, named COVID-19, began to rapidly spread at the start of this year, beginning in Wuhan, China. For Pace Academy students, the coronavirus prevented certain Isdell Center for Global Leadership (ICGL) trips from taking flight as originally planned.

According to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus is spread through human and animal contact. Scientists suspect that COVID-19 originated in bats. Experts have determined that the pangolin likely served as the intermediate host, spreading the disease to humans. The pangolin is similar to an anteater and is illegally trafficked throughout China. Chinese citizens consume these animals and use their scales for medicine.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the virus spreads most commonly from person to person through respiratory droplets that come from coughs and sneezes. These droplets can be inhaled by surrounding people, making their way into their lungs.

But the virus may also survive on surfaces for up to nine days at room temperature, based on studies of similar coronaviruses. More research is needed to determine if this is true for COVID-19 as well.

The CDC offers recommendations to help avoid getting sick, including washing your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, and avoiding touching your hands, nose and mouth. Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces is also helpful.

As of March 6, the coronavirus is present in 87 countries and territories, with China, South Korea, Iran and Italy reporting the highest number of cases of the virus and number of deaths. There are 228 confirmed cases in the U.S. according to CNN, and the virus is expected to spread more widely in the United States and throughout the world in the coming weeks.

Due to this epidemic, the spring ICGL trips to China and Vietnam were rerouted. The middle school study tour to China was switched to Australia, while the upper school study tour to Vietnam traveled to South Africa instead. In South Africa, students helped build houses through Habitat for Humanity, an international nonprofit organization that builds homes for those in need. Students also had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of going on a wildlife safari. The upper school summer study tour to China was recently rerouted to Brazil.

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