Kamloops, Okanagan colleges and universities taking precautions amid coronavirus outbreak - InfoNews

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Kamloops, Okanagan colleges and universities taking precautions amid coronavirus outbreak

February 03, 2020 - 6:30 PM

Colleges and universities in Kamloops and the Okanagan are intervening with students and staff to help slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, including halting travel to China in some cases.

The institutions are largely following Canada’s lead by simply advising students and faculty to avoid travel to China and relying on spreading good information to avoid getting and spreading the infection.

Last month, health officials in B.C. confirmed a Vancouver-based man in his 40s was presumed to have the coronavirus. So far, this has been the only confirmed case in B.C. and health officials with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control say the risk to British Columbians continues to be low as of today, Feb. 3.

In Kamloops, Thompson Rivers University spokesperson Darshan Lindsay says non-essential travel for university business has been halted.

“Our hold on travel to China for faculty and staff follows suit... the Canada Public Health Agency is advising Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to China,” Lindsay says in an emailed statement.

Matthew Ramsey, director of university affairs with the University of British Columbia, says they have been working closely with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control to relay information to students, faculty and staff members in B.C. and those abroad.

Posters for proper hygiene habits have been posted throughout UBC campuses and emails have been sent to students and faculty in affected areas but UBC stopped short of halting any travel plans.

Ramsey says there are 32 students in total scheduled to participate in programs in China and those programs are set to begin in a month. All 32 students have been notified of heightened global affairs warnings and the World Health Organization declaration last week.

“26 of the students are exchange students and of that number 12 are in China including one in Hubei (province), but not in Wuhan and they are all with their family,” Ramsey says, adding students have also been informed of their options to return to Canada and either defer or withdraw from their programs or wait with families until partner universities are able to resume academic activity.

Students who haven’t yet travelled to China yet have been advised to defer travel.

Okanagan College also put out a statement advising students to use proper hygiene practices and students and staff travelling internationally, especially in or around China, should take proper precaution.

"We have no students or staff going to China right now," Allan Coyle, director of public affairs, with Okanagan College says. "We started an alert page last Monday (Jan. 27) and right now we're paying close attention to what the federal government is saying about travel alerts."

There have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus throughout the southern interior, according to the Interior Health Authority.

The Ministry of Health released a statement today saying the federal government will be bringing Canadians home from Hubei, China including Wuhan city, to a Canadian Forces Base, east of Toronto.

The returning Canadians, including staff and flight crew will remain at the military base for 14 days to receive social and medical support. This is the maximum incubation period so passengers and flight crew can be assessed and monitored.

Measures to prevent the illness includes proper hand washing, avoiding touching one’s face, coughing or sneezing into an elbow sleeve, and disposing of tissues appropriately. It is also advised to stay home and away from others if you become sick.

For more information and the latest updates on the coronavirus visit the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website by going here.


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