State

University of Illinois suspends Sierra Leone programs over Ebola

URBANA – The University of Illinois announced it has suspended study-abroad programs in Sierra Leone and plans extra screening for students arriving from West Africa in response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak.

Only a handful of the 3,500 new international students expected at the Urbana-Champaign campus this fall are from the area affected by the Ebola outbreak, Martin McFarlane told The News-Gazette in Champaign. He is associate director of International Student and Scholar Services at the campus.

Health care workers screen all new international students. But West African students will go through an additional interview and educational process, Dr. Robert Palinkas of the campus’ McKinley Health Center said.

“I think it’s always wise to prepare,” he said, adding that campus officials aren’t too worried.

More than 900 people have died of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria since the outbreak began in March.

Programs for students in Sierra Leone will be suspended for at least this fall, said Bo White, who is assistant director for international health and safety at the campus. No University of Illinois students were studying in West Africa this summer.

Palinkas said he has taken a few phone calls from worried parents, some of whom wanted quarantine measures to be taken.

“There are some people who just want to have everybody in some sort of a dome,” he said.

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