0130 MU CORONAVIRUS

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COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri announced Thursday afternoon university-sponsored travel to China is banned until further notice. This comes after the CDC issued a level three travel warning. This level is the highest. 

“Why would we risk sending someone there in a situation where we have multiple health experts saying that it’s not safe to travel?" University spokesperson Christian Basi said. "We want to make sure we did leave in the message that we would look at appeals on a case by case basis, but that appeal to travel at this point in time would have to be absolutely extraordinary for us to allow university-sponsored trip to China."

Basi said MU is a global university and that students, faculty and staff are consistently traveling.

For example, one MU student, Don Benincasa, was able to spend two weeks in China through a university-sponsored program before to the ban.

Due to this being university-sponsored, Benincasa was able to report on the China Open last fall and gain a whole new outlook on China. 

"For all this drama we make about the trade war and our relations right now," Benincasa said. "There was never animosity between any of the people in our group and the Chinese people we met."

While Benincasa said he is aware of the severity of the Coronavirus, it's the way it was announced that he questions. 

"It’s not really that I’m frustrated with the message," Benincasa said. "It's just the message needs to be nuanced and it needs to be layered. It can’t be as simple as 'We need to avoid this.'"

Overall, Benincasa said it is the stereotype associated with China that makes this announcement so harsh. 

"I want to reemphasize how amazing of a place it really is. Because if you just send an email about this dangerous place with all these people with this sickness and you just leave it at that... that can be really bad and it can give the wrong message," Benincasa said. "I think messaging is everything so I’d just like to encourage the university and for people as a whole to not be afraid to look into and read into it. Don’t be afraid to think about going. I went there and it was really an amazing experience for me."

Basi said he knows this is a frustrating situation for those hoping to have an experience similar to Benincasa's, but the university does not feel this is something worth risking anyone's safety. 

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