In response to growing concerns over COVID-19 spreading in B.C., the University of Victoria (UVic) has suspended international travel for students and staff and cancelled large gatherings including some classes.
As of Friday, all UVic classes with more than 250 students have been cancelled. This announcement came after the B.C. government announced on March 12 that a ban had been placed on all events with more than 250 people. Public gathering limits will also impact the institution’s non-academic events.
“We have to do our best to slow transmissions here in British Columbia,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry during a daily briefing about the coronavirus on Thursday.
As of Friday morning, nearly 5,000 students had signed a change.org petition created on Wednesday for UVic to cancel all classes but for now, the school has only called off large lectures. There are currently no COVID-19 cases reported on the campus.
Following the advice of government health officials and the World Health Organization (WHO) labelling COVID-19 as a pandemic, the university has also suspended all international travel effective March 16.
All university-sponsored outbound international travel for students, staff and faculty has been cancelled until May 31. According to a UVic web statement, sponsored travel includes exchanges, work-term placements, conferences and any activities through university courses or programs.
Members of the UVic community are also being asked to assess the risks of personal international travel and consider cancelling trips to areas impacted by the virus spread. Canadian health officials have advised against non-essential travel outside the country and anyone who must travel internationally is being asked to self-isolate for two weeks.
UVic acknowledges the situation with COVID-19 is evolving and says it will continue to update decisions to support containment in an effort to protect those most vulnerable in the community.
-With files from Ashley Wadhwani