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Tampa Bay area teacher in South Korea says she may have tough time returning home due to coronavirus

Posted at 11:00 PM, Feb 24, 2020

For the past three years, Elizabeth Tracy has taught first graders English at a private school in Seoul, South Korea. Late Sunday night, she was informed classes were canceled.

Tracy was at the end of her three-year teaching stint and could now face serious obstacles to get home.

The latest numbers as of Monday at 9 p.m. showed cases of COVID-19 confirmed at 893.

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South Korea President Moon Jae-in has put the country on its highest alert for infectious diseases and says officials should take "unprecedented, powerful" steps to fight a viral outbreak.

"I'm definitely nervous of what the process will look like," Tracy told ABC Action News via Skype. "Will I have to be quarantined for like safety measures? A little concerning having that happen too. And going to the airport and being around so many people."

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Tracy sent photos of her 4-year-old students wearing masks. She said the country was monitoring the situation, but things got worse last Friday when cases began to explode in the area.

"They've been wearing their masks during class," Tracy said. "They are like four-years-old, so their hygiene is not the best. So, like I've been teaching them a lot about hygiene. I have a little song about covering your mouth when you cough and sneeze, making them wash their hands really frequently now."

The US now has 53 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including 19 new patients diagnosed over the weekend, health officials said Monday.

The stateside cases include 39 evacuees from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship and the Chinese city of Wuhan at the center of the outbreak, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said the 14 other cases were patients in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington state, Arizona and Wisconsin.

World Health Officials said the window to stop the virus from turning into a flow blown pandemic is closing.

Tracy said her priority now is figuring out how to get back home safely.