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Photo: Jean-Luc Ducamp/The Fulcrum

Laboratories can fill out an exemption form to continue operations

Due to growing concerns of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Ottawa’s office of the vice-president, research (OVPR) has asked that all non-essential critical research or non-time sensitive research begin scaling down their activities by Friday.

“Critical research includes COVID-19 research, time-sensitive critical projects or laboratory activities that if disrupted, would result in serious loss of research data, material or equipment,” wrote the OVPR in an online statement.   

“Those laboratories will be allowed to pursue their activities, under strict hygiene precautions and by practicing social distancing.”

An exemption form can be filled out for any laboratories that believe they fit the category of critical or time-sensitive research, which will then be sent to the chair of the department and vice-dean, research or dean of their faculty. The OVPR will then determine if the requests are approved.

“The OVPR also encourages those who can continue their research off-campus to do so if it is safe and by assigning appropriate work to trainees and research personnel,” reads the statement.

In response to the OVPR’s request, the school’s Animal Care and Veterinary Service (ACVS) wrote in an update that will continue to provide basic animal care services in ACVS facilities in Guindon, D’Iorio and Vanier Halls, and at the U of O Heart Institute.

“Researchers will continue to have access to the animal facilities, in particular, to manage their breeding colonies for non-commercially available strains of animals,” wrote the ACVS. “We would appreciate your cooperation in ensuring that only the minimum number of animals necessary to maintain strains are produced and kept.”

However, any technical service requests will be deferred until further notice and no new surgical bookings will be accepted, according to the ACVS’s statement.

“In addition, animal orders and animals to be shipped in from other institutions will not be accepted for the time being,” reads the statement.

“Once the process to identify critical or time-sensitive projects is completed, only animal research specifically approved by the Vice-President, Research will be able to proceed, with ACVS working with teams on a case by case basis.”

As of Monday, there are 24 positive cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa. The city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches says “there could now be hundreds to even a thousand cases in the community now.”

Across Ontario, there have been six deaths from COVID-19 and at least 503 confirmed cases of the virus as of Monday. There have been more than 1,400 confirmed cases of the virus and 20 deaths in Canada.

COVID-19 has infected more than 360,000 people and killed over 16,000 globally since emerging in China in December 2019. There have been over 100,000 recoveries from the virus.

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