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Schools and universities on high alert following coronavirus outbreak

coronavirus outbreak
Schools and universities are stepping up their efforts to curb the coronavirus outbreak. Source: Shutterstock

When China sneezes, the whole world catches a cold. 

This saying takes on a new twist as the deadly coronavirus outbreak, which originated from a food market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, unfolds.

Schools and universities across the globe are issuing guidelines in response to the viral respiratory illness which has already left 56 people dead in China at the time of writing.

Authorities have extended its lockdown to at least 10 cities to contain the outbreak, making for a sombre Chinese New Year holiday for celebrants.

Hong Kong’s government announced on Saturday that all kindergartens, primary and secondary schools would remain closed until February 17 as authorities rush to contain the outbreak. 

Many other countries are bolstering efforts to contain the pandemic as confirmed cases have been reported in the US, France, South Korea, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Australia.

Stepping up containment methods


According to a report by 3AW, nine schools in Melbourne have issued notices to parents calling on them to keep their children at home for two weeks if they’ve visited affected areas or come in close contact with someone who has coronavirus.

For instance, parents at Firbank Grammar School have reportedly been sent a letter urging students who have visited Wuhan, come in close contact with people who have visited Wuhan, or travelled elsewhere in China and are exhibiting flu-like symptoms, to “remain in China, or self-isolate in Melbourne with their parents for two weeks from contact or date of arrival”, said the report.

The school has also urged parents to monitor their child’s health and check their temperature daily.

Universities in the UK are also being vigilant, with many closely monitoring the situation. 

The University of Sussex has advised individuals to seek medical attention if they develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of visiting Wuhan city, either in China or on their return to the UK.

A spokesman for the University of Brighton was quoted saying by The Argus that it was “taking appropriate steps” to ensure students or staff travelling to China were aware of Government guidance.

“Like other UK universities we are monitoring the situation closely and are acting in line with advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Public Health England,” he said.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and take action as appropriate.”

Meanwhile, the vice-chancellors’ group Universities UK was quoted saying by The Guardian: “Ensuring the safety and welfare of their students is a top priority for universities. UK universities have been monitoring the coronavirus situation as it unfolds and universities with students in affected areas are working to identify appropriate actions.

“Universities will continue to follow the latest FCO advice and to monitor the situation, which is evolving rapidly.”

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