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University suspended operations in China back in January

The University of Ottawa said on Wednesday that it has launched an international travel registry and suspended operations in Iran amid the spread of COVID-19.

All university-sponsored travel, including internships, exchanges, letter of permission, research, and co-op placements, have been suspended in Iran. The U of O suspended operations in China back in January.

The school has also launched an international travel registry for members of the community travelling outside of Canada for official studies, research or work. Registration is mandatory for students and non-academic staff travelling outside of Canada and is “highly recommended” for faculty members as well. 

Inputting itinerary and contact information will allow the university to send alerts and travel advice to students, staff and faculty abroad, while also enabling direct contact in emergency situations. 

The administration is encouraging students, staff and faculty to closely monitor the Global Affairs Canada website for the most up to date travel advice and advisories “and adjust their travel plans accordingly.” In doubt, the school says students should contact the International Office, while faculty and staff should reach out to the Office of Risk Management

“The university continues to follow the advice of Global Affairs Canada in determining where official travel is permitted,” the school said in an online statement. “Exceptional travel to areas listed as ‘avoid non-essential travel’ must first be cleared by the Office of Risk Management in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.”

A working group has also been established to coordinate the university’s response across campuses. The school says it is also refining “academic and business contingency plans, that will be implemented if necessary.”

Since originating in Wuhan, China in December 2019, COVID-19 has killed more than 3,000 people and sickened over 95,000, with the highest number of reported cases outside of China appearing in South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan. 

As of Thursday, there were a total of 34 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, with 20 reported cases in Ontario, 13 in British Columbia, and one in Quebec. There have been no presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa and the public health risk associated with COVID-19 remains low for Canada.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is asking those who have recently travelled to mainland China (including Hong Kong), Iran, northern Italy, Japan, Singapore or South Korea to take a number of precautions for two weeks days after arriving back home, as contact with COVID-19 is possible. 

Those precautions include monitoring for the symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough and difficulty breathing) as well as self-isolating as quickly as possible and calling a health care professional or public health agency if symptoms do appear.

Undergraduate students who are self-isolating should contact their faculty, while graduate students should contact their program to arrange for accommodations, the administration says.