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Princeton students who visited China asked to self-quarantine amid coronavirus fears

Princeton University has ordered a group of students, faculty and staffers who recently traveled to China to self-isolate amid concerns that they may have been exposed to the deadly coronavirus, according to reports.

Fewer than 20 students were in self-quarantine as of Monday evening, university spokesman Michael Hotchkiss told NJ.com.

They must confine themselves for 14 days after their last visit to mainland China, the university said in a statement.

As many as 108 Princeton students were initially ordered to self-quarantine, but that number dropped after state health authorities issued new guidance, Hotchkiss said.

“Each student’s needs are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis to ensure they receive appropriate assistance,” he told NJ Advance Media.

Ben Chang, another Princeton spokesman, said virtual classes are an option to ensure the isolated students keep up with their studies.

“A big team of folks have been working for days to meet the academic housing and dining needs for students self-isolating,” Chang said.

Senior Alexander Gottdiener told News 12 New Jersey that students are glad the school was taking the threat seriously.

“I think that when a new strain of virus comes that we don’t have antibodies or resistance for — we should be able to take the utmost precautions when something like that comes,” Gottdiener told the outlet.

“So, while the coronavirus may not necessarily be completely deadly, and it might not be as huge an epidemic as, say Ebola, it’s still something we should watch for,” he added.

Alex Luo, one of the students who self-quarantined, traveled to Shanghai to celebrate the Lunar New Year with his family.

“I thought it almost my duty to self-quarantine to protect the larger community in the off-chance I was infected. But that sentiment is clearly not shared among not just travelers, but the general public,” Luo told News 12.

As of Tuesday morning, the virus has killed at least 427 people, nearly all of them in China. The country’s National Health Commission said 20,627 cases have now been confirmed.

Of the 425 deaths in mainland China, 80 percent of the victims were over the age of 60 — and 75 percent of victims had an underlying disease, according to health commission official Jiao Yahui, CNN reported.