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A Chinese exchange student at Penn Charter tested negative for the coronavirus. (Photo by Gavin.s | CC BY-SA 3.0)

A Chinese exchange student suspected of having the coronavirus at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia tested negative, 6ABC Action News reported earlier today.

The Philadelphia Health Department worked with officials at William Penn Charter School to investigate the possible case of coronavirus in a Chinese exchange student, according to CBS Philly. The student began feeling unwell at the end of last week following a layover in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated, CBS Philly reported. 

On Jan. 16, the student, 17 peers, and three chaperones took off from an airport near their home before touching down in Wuhan. The group then transferred flights and flew to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York before arriving at Penn Charter last Tuesday, according to the The Philadelphia Inquirer. As a result of the possible coronavirus case, 6ABC Action News reported that on Monday night, the head of Penn Charter sent a letter to parents notifying them that he was ending the exchange program, according to the Inquirer. The group will return to China next Tuesday, the Inquirer added.

“Health officials have informed the school that the exposure time in Wuhan was limited, and it is important to know that many other common respiratory viruses are circulating in China and here in the United States at this time, so the student’s illness is more likely to be caused by one of those viruses,” Penn Charter spokesperson Sharon Sexton told the Inquirer.

The Head of Penn Charter Darryl Ford cited community-wide concern, media disruptions, and disruption of educational programs as reasons for terminating the program in a letter to parents posted on 6ABC Action News.

Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian that the University currently does not have any updates on the matter.

"However, we do expect the CDC to update its travel advisory sometime later today, in all likelihood expanding its travel restriction to all of China," Dubé wrote.

The Washington Post reported that the CDC raised its travel warning to the highest level on Monday, warning against all travel to China.

There are currently five confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States. (Photo by CDC/Dr. Fred Murphy)

An email sent by Provost Wendell E. Pritchett, Executive Vice President Craig R. Carnaroli, and Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé on Jan. 24 to the Penn community reported no cases of the virus at Penn. The email stated, however, that all students who traveled to China within the last 14 days and developed a cough, fever, or difficulty breathing should contact Student Health Services immediately. Director of Campus Health Ashlee Halbritter said in an interview with the DP that Campus Health, Study Abroad Office, International Student and Scholar Services, and Penn Global are working together to communicate with Chinese international students and students currently studying, planning to study, or traveling abroad in the near future. 

The new strain of coronavirus – a large, very common, family of viruses – was detected by Chinese authorities on Dec. 31, according to the Post. The New York Times reported that over 4,500 cases and over 100 deaths have been recorded. The disease has spread to 16 countries, including the U.S., prompting China to suspend all travel from the city of Wuhan and place travel restrictions on at least 12 other cities and more than 50 million citizens in China, according to the Times. 

There are currently five confirmed cases in the U.S.: two in southern California and one each in Chicago, Arizona, and Washington, according to CNN. Five U.S. airports have since begun screening all passengers coming from China for the coronavirus, NBC5 Chicago reported.

While the U.S. only has five confirmed cases in four states, over 100 patients in 26 different states have been tested for the coronavirus, according to NBC News.

Penn wrote in the Jan. 24 email that the University will continue to post the most up-to-date information on the coronavirus concerning the Penn community on the Campus Health and Penn Global websites.

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