University of Southern Maine campus in Portland Robert Lowell / The Forecaster

PORTLAND — A University of Southern Maine student studying in Italy might be stranded in the country, which has been locked down in an attempt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

The student, unidentified by USM, was to leave Italy this week, according to Nancy Griffin, university chief operating officer.

More than 3,000 cases of coronavirus have been detected in Italy as of Monday. The disease has infected 110,000 worldwide, killing about 3,800.

Italy closed its borders Monday.

On Monday, Griffin did not name the student, who she said was not in an area impacted by a coronavirus quarantine. The student was to return home, she said. When asked whether the student lived in Maine, Griffin said she didn’t have that information and did not respond to an email request to confirm the student’s identity by the Forecaster’s deadline Tuesday.

The USM Free Press posted an “Adventures in Europe” column Monday student Zoe Bernardi of Schenectedy, New York, who is studying in Italy.

“Last week Italy was in a level two stated by CDC, and overnight it was pushed to a level three,” Bernardi wrote. “To which UMaine and the risk management team held many meetings to decide what to do. UMaine chose to pull all programs from Italy and other countries that had a level 3 for coronavirus. This news came to me late Friday night, I was told that I have to pack my things and leave Italy on Tuesday.”

Bernardi, according to her previous columns in the Free Press, arrived in Italy in early February for a four-month stay.

The Forecaster could not reach Bernardi by email or a Facebook message by the newspaper’s deadline Tuesday.

“USM has been in communication with all of our students who are studying abroad,” Griffin said.

Emily Zider, USM’s international travel adviser, did not respond to an email request or return a telephone call Tuesday seeking information about the status of the student.

The U.S. State Department has posted travel advisories with four levels for other countries. Level 1 warns travelers to exercise precaution; Level 2, increased caution; Level 3, reconsider travel; and Level 4, do not travel.

“We have 10 students who are in countries with a risk level of 1 or 2,” Griffin said.

A UMaine System coronavirus health advisory posted online states that when State Department or CDC travel advisories are increased to Level 3 or 4, the university will require travelers to return to the United States.

“University travel is currently prohibited to the countries of China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy,” the advisory reports.

Daniel Hartill of the USM public affairs office said the university doesn’t have any students in Asia.

The university encourages all students, faculty and staff to reconsider travel – domestic and international – if they are concerned for their safety.

The UMaine System is asking employees and students to voluntarily disclose any international travel. It also urges students to update their emergency contact information. “We will need accurate information to accommodate distance learning options whether it be for students returning home early from a study abroad program or if campus operations or instruction are curtailed in any way,” the advisory said.

“Anyone who has been asked by public health officials to restrict movements to halt the spread of the COVID-19 would receive academic accommodations during the period when they are required to be in isolation. Students will be required to work with their campus international travel coordinator to plan integration back to campus,” according to the UMaine advisory.

UMaine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy said  “there is no reason yet” to expect that any campus closings would be needed. “We’re planning, and we’re going to be transparent about it. We’ll be as ready as we can be so we can continue to serve our students and protect our communities’ public health,” Malloy said in a posted statement.

Maine Center for Disease Control reported Monday that the state had no confirmed cases of coronavirus.

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