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28 University of Texas Students Test Positive for Coronavirus After Chartering Plane to Mexico for Spring Break

More than two dozen students from the University of Texas, Austin, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) after chartering a plane to Mexico for spring break.

About a week and a half ago, 70 twenty-somethings from the university chartered a plane to Cabo San Lucas, the Austin Public Health Department said in a press release Tuesday. Of that number, 28 have tested positive for COVID-19. Four people of the 28 positive cases are not showing symptoms.

Some members of the group returned to the U.S. on commercial flights, and both Austin Public Health and UT Health Austin and University Health Services have contacted each member of the group, who are all being closely monitored.

The 28 people who tested positive are self-isolating, the press release said, and the rest are “under quarantine while being monitored and tested.”

At the time of the group’s trip to Mexico, the country was not under a federal travel advisory. However, the Austin Public Health Department said in its press release that “Austin-Travis County residents should follow CDC’s travel recommendations indicating travelers avoid all non-essential international travel. A leisure vacation of any kind is not considered essential.”

“The university is working closely with Austin Public Health to assist in contact tracing,” a spokesperson for UT Austin told PEOPLE in a statement on Tuesday. “The incident is a reminder of the vital importance of taking seriously the warnings of public health authorities on the risks of becoming infected with COVID-19 and spreading it to others.”

Travis County and the City of Austin issued a stay at home order on March 24, calling for all residents to remain at home except for essential activities like getting groceries and supplies, obtaining health care or medicine, and performing work at an essential business.

As of Tuesday, Texas has at least 3,280 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 244 of those cases in Travis County. There have been 50 deaths in the state from the virus, with two in Travis County.

Nationwide, there are now at least 183,532 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 3,727 deaths as of Tuesday.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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