Coronavirus FAQs for Teach Abroad

The safety of CIEE participants is our highest priority, and all of our decisions reflect that commitment to participant safety.

Based on CDC and U.S. State Department elevated travel advisories related to COVID-19, CIEE Teach Abroad has suspended all of its current programs for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.  

At this time, we do not anticipate any changes to our fall 2020 programming. 


Please call 207-274-5783 anytime to speak with a CIEE Teach Abroad representative if you have any questions. 



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Popular Science, Just how contagious is COVID-19?, February 20, 2020

At the Munich conference on February 15, World Health Organization Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said:

“we’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic... This is a time for facts, not fear. This is a time for rationality, not rumors.”


Below please find several articles that help put COVID-19 into perspective



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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people.  

There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. For confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms can include: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death. Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. 

COVID-19 has now been detected in numerous countries globally, after first emerging in China, including cases in the United States.  The virus itself has been named SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes has been named Coronavirus Disease 2019 (abbreviated COVID-19). 


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There are multiple excellent sources for more information on COVID-19 available to the public including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) website.  Information available on these sites includes symptoms, transmission, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.   


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While there are still unknowns about this new virus, there is enough information thus far to make fairly confident conclusions. As the coronavirus continues its march across the globe there will continue to be questions about our approach and actions. News stories continue to highlight new cases and not mention recovery. Currently, recovery from infection outnumbers new cases of infection. At this point, CIEE assesses the health risks from coronavirus to our participants and staff to be low. In particular, this disease not only is least likely to capture those under the age of 30 (currently 8.1% of all known cases), but that same age group has a 99.8% recovery rate. The vast majority of severe cases and deaths are individuals of much older age and with pre-existing medical conditions. The overall fatality of the virus remains around 2.5% of infected globally. The fatality rate of the majority of our participants’ age hovers somewhere around 0.2%, and again, the majority of those fatalities had pre-existing medical conditions that caused complications.  

In a nutshell, no one over the age of 50 wants this disease, especially if they have other pre-existing health conditions, smoke, or are obese. Members of this group, specifically if complications develop, are the most at risk and even then, 97.6% recover (meaning roughly 2.4% of cases in this demographic are fatal). Those under 40, if they contract the illness and become symptomatic aren’t happy, because it is uncomfortable and worrisome to have a cold that could worsen.   

What we are seeing with over 80,000 confirmed cases of the disease is that this is actually more contagious than its coronavirus cousins of SARS and MERS, but significantly less harmful. SARS had a fatality rate of about 10% and MERS about 35%. COVID-19’s fatality rate is currently trending under 2.5% but all medical professionals are leery of landing on a specific number. There is a lag time from contraction to outcome and furthermore, we are only looking at those who were sick enough to get tested.   


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There is no vaccine currently available and though there are many companies working on developing one, the process from development to approval and available could take months to years. The CDC does recommend that everyone gets a flu shot as no one wants to be dealing with the flu and have coronavirus at the same time.


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Practicing healthy habits - particularly handwashing and disinfecting surfaces and objects potentially contaminated with germs – are the best ways to help prevent the spread of illness while traveling, at home, and in school.  CIEE is reinforcing these practices at every center worldwide and ensuring centers have an ample supply of hand soap available for participants and staff.  

The CDC specifically recommends the following: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 
  • Stay home when you are sick.  
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.  
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.  
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask:  
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well to wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.  
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.   

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.  
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.