‘People are paranoid’: UNCW students abroad impacted by coronavirus


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — UNCW cancelled the spring break study abroad trip to Italy after the spread of coronavirus.

But students are already there. Some study abroad programs began in January.

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“People are paranoid, people are scared,” UNCW student Ally Kinsey said. “A lot of places are shutting down, especially in northern Italy.”

Ally Kinsey is based in Sorrento, Italy for her studies.

“Today they’re actually disinfecting the dorms with professional grade cleaner,” she said.

She’s in Germany right now on spring break.

Kinsey says while lots of people are scared and taking precautions, some are not taking it as seriously as they should.

“When we were back in Italy, there was a group of teenagers walking down the street and they were faking coughing everywhere,” she said.

She says when they return to school in Sorrento, they’re bringing a doctor on campus.

“For the next week we have to get tested every single day just to make sure,” Kinsey said. “So they’re taking a lot of precautions about it and they’re doing a really good job about keeping us updated with everything.”

She says UNCW communicates with students at least twice per day.

“They haven’t said anything about bringing us home yet,” Kinsey said. “So I don’t think that’s overly a big concern for them yet.”

Right now she says she is taking precautions like washing her hands and avoiding people who are sick, but she is still trying to enjoy her time abroad.

Back at home, the health center is monitoring the outbreaks.

“The staff is updated on all the CDC guidelines, we’re having regular meetings, we’re following all the local advice, making sure we have supplies,” Director of Student Health Katrin Wesner-Harts said.

She says while coronavirus is a concern, there are bigger threats for us in the Cape Fear.

“We’re above 100 people that have died in North Carolina from the flu this season,” Wesner-Harts said. “So that is definitely a more local threat and something that people need to pay attention to.”

Ally Kinsey is planning to return from her semester abroad in May, as originally scheduled.

The Student Health Center says you can protect yourself from coronavirus similarly to protecting yourself from the flu, like washing hands thoroughly and covering your mouth when coughing.