As US institutions began pulling students from countries with the highest number of reported cases of COVID-19, a coronavirus strain which the World Health Organization classified as a “very high” global risk, U of T wrote to The Varsity that it is keeping its students abroad and is in contact with students in affected areas.
“The University will offer as much flexibility as possible to minimize any impact on students. We are in regular contact with partner organizations who host our students,” wrote a U of T spokesperson in response to news that US universities and the University of Calgary have begun to implement travel advisories for students, faculty, and staff abroad.
On the possibility of its own recall of students, the university wrote: “There are no plans at this time to recall students from areas outside of China, which has emerged as the epicentre of the outbreak.” The university also declined to provide the number and location of students abroad due to the “range of activities and individual travel plans.”
Since the first case of COVID-19 in December, originating from Wuhan, China, the worldwide number of cases has reached more than 88,300 and 2,993 deaths, with South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan reporting the highest number of cases outside of China.
On February 26, The Washington Post reported that both Stanford University and New York University have recalled students abroad in Florence; Florida International University has pulled students from South Korea, Italy, Japan, and Singapore; while others like Syracuse University and the University of California have issued travel advisories for affected countries.
In Canada, on February 28, the University of Calgary announced that it would be suspending university-related travel for students and non-academic staff to China, Hong Kong, Japan, Iran, Italy, South Korea, and Singapore until September. This includes the recall of students, faculty, and staff in these countries with “the university’s support and assistance.”
Academic staff are encouraged to avoid travel to these countries, the University of Calgary wrote on its website, adding: “This decision was made following careful consideration of the risks to the campus community from travel to countries experiencing community transmission of COVID-19.”
Japan shut down all primary and secondary schools to halt the spread of the virus and Italy implemented lockdown quarantines in the affected regions.
Three of the 15 confirmed cases of the virus in Ontario have been resolved, and Ontario health officials maintain that the risk of infection is still low. However, they are prepared for the number of cases to escalate. “It is important for all Ontarians to know we are prepared. Our hospitals are prepared,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott during the announcement of the eighth case of COVID-19.
Runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, and a malaise are all symptoms of coronavirus infections, according to Health Canada, which also recommends that anyone showing symptoms stay home and consult a health care provider, particularly after travel to regions where severe cases of COVID-19 have occurred.