ASU China Study Abroad Student: TSA Coronavirus Screening Was Minimal

By Emma VandenEinde
Published: Wednesday, March 4, 2020 - 4:37pm
Updated: Friday, March 6, 2020 - 1:43pm
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The spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has increased concern among communities in and near the Wuhan province in China, including students who chose to study abroad. 

The TSA said Tuesday that it will provide screenings for passengers who recently visited China.

ASU biomedical sciences senior Margaret Zheng said her screening was minimal. 

"They weren’t like too stressed about it," Zheng said. "They did take our temperatures before we got on and after we got off as well."

Zheng landed in the United States on Feb. 5 less than a month after the virus started spreading.

Security asked if she had been in Wuhan, if she had been near anyone with the virus, and if she had symptoms. While she didn’t visit Wuhan, she did visit two popular tourist cities in late January—Xi'an and Harbin.

"As soon as we had left those cities, we saw in the news that those cities had been shut down," Zheng said. "So that was pretty surreal, seeing that we could have been stuck in a city if we, like, just stayed there a bit longer."

Zheng was not quarantined in China nor the United States. Instead, she was instructed on the virus.

"They took us to like a separate room where the CDC was set up and they kind of gave us pamphlets about the coronavirus, how to prevent it, how to spot it, and we gave them our addresses and contact info," Zheng said. 

Zheng was told to self quarantine for at least 14 days in her Arizona home.

A month later, she shows no symptoms, but she has not been officially tested for the virus. 

Zheng was studying the Chinese language at Nanjing University.

But after the coronavirus outbreak, ASU canceled her program, telling her she had a week to get her stuff and return to the United States.

The problem? Zheng was in Taiwan, and she could get stuck in a city by traveling.

Zheng, like most students, chose to leave her stuff behind.

"I had a camera lens in Nanjing, I had all my clothes, all of my books, my hard drive, like every, literally everything I had was, is still in Nanjing currently," Zheng said.

In an email, Nanjing University said it would return students’ belongings but is not liable for anything that is lost.

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