University of Calgary suspends overseas travel because of coronavirus risk

In this Feb. 20, 2020, photo, people wear masks as they commute during the morning rush hour, in Chuo district in Tokyo. The Associated Press

The University of Calgary has suspended travel for all students and non-academic staff to several countries overseas until September as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread.

In a statement posted to the school’s website on Friday, the university said travel was suspended to China, Hong Kong, Japan, Iran, Italy, South Korea and Singapore “after careful consideration of the risks to the campus community.”

READ MORE: Canada could move to more active surveillance of COVID-19. Here’s what that means.

The U of C said it was also encouraging academic staff to avoid these affected countries and areas.

The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has been quickly spreading across the globe since the outbreak started in Wuhan, China in December. Hundreds of cases have since been confirmed in Iran, Italy, France, Canada, the U.S. and more. The World Health Organization on Friday raised the risk of COVID-19 spreading to “very high.

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“Our decision was made after reviewing and assessing key medical information and updates from global health experts that advise against all non-essential travel to areas affected by the virus due to the potential health risks,” said Dru Marshall, the university’s provost and vice-president (academic).

“We’re concerned for the safety and well-being of our campus community.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus spread risk is now ‘very high’ — what does that mean for Canadians?

The university said it has been in direct contact with students, faculty and staff in the countries in question, and “have strongly suggested that they return to Calgary immediately, with the university’s support and assistance.”

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Growing fears COVID-19 pandemic is on the way – Feb 27, 2020

The university said that for students affected by the suspension, there are other opportunities they could take advantage of in the spring and summer, and are advised to get in touch with their Study Abroad adviser to make arrangements.

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Two Calgary school boards, the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District, also cancelled several trips abroad planned for students in the coming months because of COVID-19 concerns.

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