February 29, 2020
This is an updated version of an email sent to all DIS students on February 28th. Please now note the following notification update in relation to travel to Italy.
Denmark and Sweden
- The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Denmark on 27 February. The individual recently returned from the impacted region in Italy and is now quarantined at home. Danish officials believe that they have identified anyone he came into contact with since his travels
- There are now seven confirmed cases in Sweden, one of which is in Stockholm. All recently returned from China or Italy or can be directly connected to other individuals who recently returned from these two countries
- Denmark and Sweden are both well prepared to respond should cases increase in either country. Hospitals are prepared to receive patients
- Authorities recommend that travelers returning from an impacted region (China, South Korea, Iran or Italy) who fall ill with a cough, breathing difficulties or fever call 1177 in Sweden and 112 in Denmark for further health advice
Travel in Europe
- At this point, neither the Danish nor the Swedish government have announced extra controls at the border and there are no reports of temperature checks or limitations on entry for individuals traveling from other European countries, including Italy
- France and Israel have announced 14-day quarantines on travelers who have been in Italy
- There are still relatively few cases in Europe as compared to China, where the situation is much more serious. The World Health Organization dashboard is a good source of information and shows that countries in Europe have few cases, with the exception of Italy
- DIS currently plans to move forward with study tours scheduled for March 14 – 22. Tours planned for Italy, however, have been relocated in an effort to assure a strong academic and cultural experience for students on those tours
- COVID-19 numbers are still low in Europe and the risk of infection for DIS students remains low. Even in Italy, where the numbers are higher, most people living in the country or visiting the country will not be infected with COVID-19
- COVID-19 is not airborne. According to the WHO, transmission occurs by droplets transmitted by coughing onto someone or touching droplets on a contaminated surface
- 80% of COVID-19 cases develop only mild symptoms and the remaining 20% are at risk of developing a lower respiratory tract infection such as pneumonia.
- The mortality rate is between 2-4% world-wide (only .7% in Europe)
- According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), “Generally elderly people and those with underlying conditions (e.g. hypertension, heart disorders, diabetes, liver disorders, and respiratory disease) are expected to be more at risk of developing severe symptoms”
- Most people who are infected do fully recover
What if: We’ve talked to several students and parents wondering what will happen if quarantines are implemented in Denmark or Sweden, if students are prevented from entering a country they plan to visit, etc. The answer is that the approach will depend on the unique circumstances of each case. However, please be assured that there are protocols in place to respond to these situations and DIS is committed to doing what we can to assist students in whatever challenges they might face as a result of COVID-19. At this point, we do not plan to cancel the spring 2020 program in Denmark or Sweden, but if that becomes necessary, DIS will work with students and their home school toward the goal of mitigating potential impacts on students’ academic progress. For more information please see the FAQ sent to parents a few days ago.
Finally, DIS provides the following guidance for you as a DIS student:
- Wear a face mask only if you are sick. The WHO and CDC do not recommend that healthy people wear face masks and they have not been proven to prevent the transmission of COVID-19
- Use sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) only when you cannot wash your hands
- Practice everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including washing hands, staying home when sick, and keep surfaces well cleaned. See more from the CDC and purchase cleaning supplies, hand soap and sanitizer at local stores. Ask your Community Advisor or host for guidance if you aren’t sure what to buy
- Understand that DIS is not putting limits on students returning from travel in Europe or to Italy in our housing or classes. This is not recommended by any Danish, Swedish or American agency nor is it necessary given the low risk that any of our students have been exposed. We expect all student to treat each other with respect and abide by the DIS Code of Student Responsibility
- While we hope this will not be the case for any of our students while abroad, there have been reports in the international news of harassment to those of Asian descent in various countries around the world. If you experience any disrespectful behaviors based on race, we are here to support you. Please contact the Care Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
- In the unlikely event that you are sick and your medical providers suspect COVID-19, notify the DIS Emergency Response Group immediately at ERG@dis.dk
- Do not travel to China or South Korea. Both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the US Department of State (USDOS) are advising against travel to China and South Korea, as are many of their counterparts in other countries
- As of today, the CDC advises against non-essential travel to all of Italy. DIS is in continued contact with any students with related registered travel to return from Italy as soon as possible and to advise those who have registered future travel plans to the country not to travel to Italy in the near future
- When planning travel, review the USDOS website for specific guidance on the location and follow the guidance of DIS including:
- Comply with any requested screening from officials and answer any immigration official’s questions honestly
We hope you find this information helpful. Please be assured that though the risk of COVID-19 at DIS remains low, DIS takes the situation seriously and is carefully monitoring the situation.
The DIS Emergency Response Group