The following alerts are based on ISA's direct observation, U.S. Department of State recommendations, Overseas Security Advisory Council, WHO reports, and expert consultation.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
On Tuesday, a shooting occurred by a downtown hotel in Barcelona near the central tourist boulevard, Las Ramblas. Local police announced that two people were wounded in the shooting and an investigation is ongoing. At the time of this posting, it had not been confirmed whether the act was carried out by a single gunman nor a motive for the shooting. The ISA Barcelona staff promptly notified all students in our Summer 1 program of today's events and advised against visiting Las Ramblas and neighborhoods in Barcelona where disruptions occurred or may occur as a result of today's shooting. ISA will continue to monitor the situation and make recommendations to students as necessary.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
On July 28th, the South Korean government declared the effective end to the MERS outbreak in South Korea. Currently, no one in South Korea is under quarantine for MERS and no new cases have been confirmed since July 4th. Only one patient is still undergoing treatment for the virus. Before declaring an official end to the outbreak, World Health Organization protocol requires a 28 day period after the last patient tests negative for the virus. Due to this remaining patient, the organization will be unable to announce a formal end to MERS for some time. While no new cases are expected to be reported, the South Korean government will keep precautionary measures (such as airport screenings) in place until the WHO formally declares an end to the outbreak. All ISA programs in Seoul are planning and continuing to run as scheduled.
Friday, July 17, 2015
At the time of this posting, there have been no new MERS cases reported in South Korea since July 6th. Overall, there have been a total of 186 confirmed cases of MERS in the country. However, of these 186 cases, 133 patients have now fully recovered and been discharged from the hospital. Various news outlets did report that a total of 16 patients are still receiving treatment, and there have been 36 reported MERS-related deaths.
Approximately 150 people remain quarantined as a precautionary measure due to possible exposure to the virus and that number continues to rapidly decrease as all quarantined people are being released from isolation after 14 days without showing symptoms of the infection.
If no new cases are reported, the South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare is likely to declare an official end to the MERS outbreak in early August. ISA Summer programs in Seoul are continuing to run without interruption. ISA Seoul staff, along with ISA's U.S.-based Health, Safety, and Security office, will continue to monitor the situation and make recommendations to students as necessary.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Following an Emergency Committee meeting on Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement affirming that the MERS outbreak in South Korea was not severe enough to warrant any global measures being taken. This included recommending against the application of any travel restrictions or screening at entry points. The South Korean health ministry did report the country?s 20th MERS-related death and a total number of 162 cases on Wednesday, however, the South Korean government reiterated that the virus has been primarily contained to hospitals and a decline in the outbreak by the end of June is predicted.
The WHO also stressed the importance of raising awareness about MERS and its symptoms among travelers to and from affected areas. Accordingly, ISA is continuing to keep all current and upcoming Seoul summer students informed of appropriate measures to safeguard against the virus and all programs are proceeding as planned.
To view the whole statement please consult the following link:
Thursday, June 11, 2015
As of June 11th, South Korea confirmed the 10th death and 122 cases of MERS as a result of the current outbreak. The South Korean government has now placed over 2,800 people under quarantine. Numerous news outlets report the primary source for the growth in the outbreak as being contact with MERS-infected individuals in Korean hospitals, while the WHO considers healthcare workers and those frequenting hospitals to be at greatest risk. ISA is continuing to advise all current and upcoming summer program students in Seoul on recommended measures to protect themselves from the illness. Neither the WHO, CDC, nor U.S. State Department has recommended any sort of travel ban or regulation for South Korea. MERS remains at a Watch Level 1, the lowest alert level on the CDC's current notices, with a general message to practice usual precautions. All ISA Seoul Programs are scheduled to proceed without interruption.
Monday, June 8, 2015
On Monday, South Korea confirmed the sixth death from MERS, an 80-year old man, and also confirmed 87 cases of the illness to date. The government has now placed approximately 2,500 people under quarantine, either at home or in health facilities and more than 1,800 schools are temporarily closed. Most of these quarantines continue to be healthcare professionals or hospital visitors and the U.S. State Department noted in a message to American citizens in South Korea that all patients in Korea acquired their illness in hospital settings where they came in contact with other MERS patients.
The ISA Seoul resident staff is continuing to advise all ISA students in Seoul on recommended measures to protect themselves from the illness, including avoiding unnecessary visits to hospitals. Furthermore, ISA students in Seoul have been instructed to notify our Seoul resident staff of any health issue that may require a clinic or hospital visit so staff may direct them appropriately. MERS remains at a Watch Level 1, the lowest alert level on the CDC's current notices, with a general message to practice usual precautions.
Thursday, June 4, 2015
As of June 4, 2015, South Korean authorities have confirmed 36 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) throughout the country. The first reported case was documented by Korean authorities on Wednesday, May 20th. To prevent further spreading, the South Korean government has currently placed approximately 1,600 people under quarantine in their homes or state-run facilities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MERS is an illness caused by a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Since the very first case of the virus was reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012, it has mostly been contained to countries in the Arabian Peninsula. MERS-CoV has spread from infected people to others through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. Accordingly, those at greatest risk are healthcare professionals or anyone else directly tending to an infected patient. Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) sees no need for implementing any special screenings at points of entry, nor travel or trade restrictions in South Korea. The U.S. Department of State has not issued a travel warning for South Korea.
ISA students have been advised about the facts of MERS and given important safety tips for prevention. The ISA Seoul resident staff remains in close communication with our host universities, and classes have been carrying on as scheduled. ISA Seoul staff, along with ISA's U.S.-based Health, Safety, and Security office, will continue to monitor the situation and make recommendations to students as necessary. All ISA Seoul programs are scheduled to proceed without interruption.
To learn more about MERS, please consult the CDC and WHO websites:
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Demonstrations continue to occur throughout Chile in conjunction with the student movement for education reform. The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV) has released information that Chilean students continue to vote in favor of a university wide student strike as a form of peaceful protest. The decisions of the local Chilean students will inevitably delay the regular semester schedule at the PUCV since these students will have to recuperate coursework and exams once they return to class. In response, the PUCV will be offering a select variety of courses in multiple disciplines in order to meet the academic needs of international students. Although these courses would have originally been held with local Chilean students, there will still be options available for international students. ISA students directly affected by this movement have been informed of the changes to their academic program and will work with ISA staff to make updates to their courses as necessary.
Although this will affect the academic component of students' experience at the PUCV, there is no heightened concern for student safety at this point in time. The international programs office at the PUCV will continue to keep ISA staff informed regarding the student strike so ISA can provide updates and make recommendations to our students. All programs at the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez remain unaffected.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
As of June 22nd, students at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV) voted in favor of an indefinite strike. As a result, PUCV has discontinued classes for the remainder of the semester. PUCV and the ISA staff have been working diligently to keep students in ISA programs informed of any course changes and cancellations. All courses offered through PUCV's international education department will continue to be held as usual and will not be affected by the strike. The only classes that will be cancelled are those offered with local Chilean students. Despite the strike, PUCV professors remain available and are advising ISA students on how to complete necessary coursework in cases where the strike is directly affecting their courses.
The Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez remains unaffected. ISA staff will continue to monitor the situation and make recommendations to our students as needed.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
As of June 3rd, Chilean students at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV) voted in support of a student strike (paro) and as a result, will not be attending courses on June 3rd and 4th. There are a select number of departments at PUCV, such as History, Social Work, and Spanish Literature that have voted in favor of an indefinite strike and have discontinued classes until further notice. The university's student federations will continue to evaluate the situation and vote on their stance regarding the strike in the days to come. PUCV and the ISA staff have been working diligently to keep students in ISA programs informed of any course changes and cancellations. All courses offered through PUCV's international education department will continue to be held as usual and will not be affected by the strike. The only classes that will be cancelled are those offered with local Chilean students. Despite the strike, PUCV professors remain available and are advising ISA students on how to complete necessary coursework in case the strike is directly affecting their courses.
The Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez remains unaffected by the student movement as it is only affecting the Consejo de Rectores of Chilean Universities (traditional universities founded before 1980). ISA staff will continue to monitor the situation and make recommendations to our students as needed.
Friday, May 22, 2015
Protests took place in Valparaiso, Chile on May 21st 2015 while President Michelle Bachelet addressed the country from the National Congress building located in the city center. May 21st is a national holiday commemorating a battle that took place during the War of the Pacific and every year the president travels from Santiago to Valparaiso to give a speech regarding the current state of the nation. This day often sparks marches and protests against the Chilean government with large numbers of people gathering in the streets of Valparaíso. Given today's current political climate, the protests also focused on the lack of education reform and two local students who were killed last week. Although initially peaceful, violence broke out and police used tear gas and water cannons to stop protesters from breaking the barrier between the crowd and the congress building. All ISA students are accounted for and safe, and classes were not affected by the protests since yesterday was a holiday. Students have been reminded that participation in any protests are against the ISA Code of Conduct. The ISA Chile resident staff will continue to monitor the situation and advise students as necessary.
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