Temple University Rome closes amid novel coronavirus in Italy

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Temple University has told its students at the Rome campus they must return back home due to the spread of the novel coronavirus in Italy.

In a letter sent to Temple University Rome students on Saturday, Interim Director and Acting Dean Fay Trachtenberg said the campus is closing for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.

The letter notes that on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of State elevated their travel warnings to Level 3 for all of Italy.

"For you, this means you will need to make arrangements to gather your belongings, leave Italy and return home," the letter said.

Temple asked that students report their current whereabouts to school officials and then contact an airline or travel agent to arrange a return flight home.

Trachtenberg warned returning students that as they travel back home they may encounter heightened screenings at airports and borders.

The letter said Temple Rome faculty members will offer classes online beginning March 9.

"I realize many of you had hoped we could continue the spring semester together, but your safety and welfare are our highest priority. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you on your way home and the completion of your semester," Trachtenberg said.

Italian authorities said the country now has more than 1,000 coronavirus cases and 29 people infected with the virus have died.

The head of Italy's civil protection agency said during a news conference that the total number reached 1,128 on Saturday. Officials also reported eight more deaths in the previous 24 hours.

Civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli said 52% of the people who tested positive for the virus in Italy are being isolated in their homes and not hospitalized.

Health authorities said they suspect the new cases confirmed since Friday involved infections acquired before Italy shut down 11 towns in northern Italy on Feb. 21.

They said it would take at least two weeks -- the period of incubation -- for the effect of the containment measures to show up in fewer new cases.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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