UBC Campus Notifications

Last Updated: February 21, 2020 – 7:53 a.m. PST

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and UBC’s response

Feb. 20, 2020 – 11:04 a.m. PST

As you may be aware, China and other countries around the world, including Canada, are working to contain the spread of a newly detected Coronavirus.

At this time, the Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk associated with the virus as “low for Canada”.  

We ask that anyone expecting visitors to campus from Hubei Province, China, contact the host unit to determine if that visit may be delayed. As of Feb. 7, the BC Centre for Disease Control has also advised the following: “People arriving in Canada from Hubei Province, China are asked to stay home and self-isolate for 14 days and monitor closely for symptoms of illness”. For further details visit http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-%28novel%29.

We take the safety and security of our community both in Canada and abroad very seriously. The following steps have been taken so far:

  • Student health services in Vancouver and the Okanagan have consulted with the BC Centre for Disease Control for guidance to facilitate the detection and containment of the virus.
  • Staff at UBC’s Go Global program have contacted exchange and co-op students in affected areas to ensure they are aware of the situation and have the health information, resources and contacts they need.
  • The university has reached out to staff and faculty in areas where Coronavirus has been reported to advise them as well.
  • Posters are up in student residences advising students of Coronavirus and tips to avoid viral illnesses and transmission of viruses.
  • We have convened a group of stakeholders from across the university to coordinate action as new information emerges.

UBC works with a service provider, International SOS (iSOS), to advise and support travelling students, faculty, and staff. If you have concerns about travelling, or require more information, visit https://finance.ubc.ca/travel/plan/travel-safety. Students, faculty and staff travelling to China are also advised to check https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories before travel.

See the following sites for more information:

Public Health Agency of Canada — https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html

BC Centre for Disease Control — http://www.bccdc.ca/about/news-stories/stories/2020/information-on-novel-coronavirus

World Health Organization — https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019


Coronavirus (COVID-19) and UBC – Frequently Asked Questions

Feb. 20, 2020 – 9:54 a.m. PST

How high is the risk of contracting the Novel Coronavirus in BC?
At this time, the BC Centre for Disease Control advises that the risk to British Columbians continues to be low. More information can be found on the BC Centre for Disease Control website.

The Government of Canada has advised to avoid all non-essential travel to China. Details can be found at https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/china

Are any UBC students, faculty or staff reported to be infected with the Novel Coronavirus?
We are currently not aware of any cases amongst our students, faculty and staff, both within B.C. or abroad. In the event of a presumptive or confirmed case, information would be provided to the public by the relevant health agency, according to their protocols.

What are the symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus?
Information on the symptoms, transmission and treatment of Novel Coronavirus can be found at the Government of Canada website Novel Coronavirus infection: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

What precautions can I take to prevent the spread of infection?
The advice from health agencies is:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces.

What is UBC doing to minimise the risk of infection to students, faculty and staff?
We are working hard to ensure that students, faculty and staff receive reliable and up to date information on preventive measures to reduce the risk of the Novel Coronavirus infection. We are also increasing the distribution of hand sanitizers around campus.

UBC continues to consult with the BC Centre for Disease Control on how to detect and mitigate any potential cases on our campuses. We have appropriate measures and equipment in place, in the event that we are presented with someone displaying the Novel Coronavirus symptoms.

Should students, faculty and staff who have travelled to affected areas remain at home for a period of time, after returning to Canada?
As of February 7, 2020 the BC Centre for Disease Control has advised the following: “People arriving in Canada from Hubei Province, China are asked to stay home and self-isolate for 14 days and monitor closely for symptoms of illness”. For further details visit http://www.bccdc.ca/about/news-stories/stories/2020/information-on-novel-coronavirus

  • Faculty and staff — if you do not have any symptoms during the period of self- isolation, we encourage you to discuss with your manager the option of working from home.
  • Students — if you do not have any symptoms during the period of self-isolation, we encourage you to discuss with your professor the option of studying from home.

Can staff work from home until there is no risk of catching the virus?
Although the BC Centre for Disease Control is advising people arriving from Hubei Province, China, to self-isolate, the risk to British Columbians continues to be low. Therefore, staff can attend work as normal.

What should I do if one of my students or colleagues shows symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus?
Anyone who is concerned they, or someone they have been exposed to, may be experiencing symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus (particularly if you have travelled to Hubei, China or been in contact with ill people from that area), should contact their health-care provider or call public health at 8-1-1. For more information and the latest updates, visit http://www.bccdc.ca

Is UBC distributing masks for people to wear to prevent the spread of infection on our campuses?
UBC is not distributing masks. Some members of our community may opt to wear masks, and we fully support their right to do so. We ask the community to be respectful of students, faculty and staff who choose to wear masks.

What is being done to inform students living in residence about the Novel Coronavirus?
Student Housing and Community Services have postered all student residences in Vancouver and the Okanagan, advising students how to reduce their risk for the Novel Coronavirus infection specifically and seasonal influenza in general. All residence staff have been advised of that information.

What do I do if I’m travelling to areas that have been affected by the Novel Coronavirus?
We advise anyone from our community to review federal government travel advisories here: Travel Health Notice for China. Students travelling for university-related activity should complete the Student Safety Abroad Registry.

Is UBC cancelling university-related trips to China?
The university will take guidance from provincial and federal agencies on any travel restrictions. Students, faculty and staff travelling to China are advised to check the Government of Canada’s travel advice and advisories before travel.

Some departments with trips to China planned as part of their program may be taking the decision to defer or cancel those travel plans. Students, faculty and staff impacted by these decisions will be informed directly.

Will exchange programs to China be cancelled?
At this time an operational group has been established to discuss the possible cancellation of spring and summer exchange and co-op programs in China. Affected students will be contacted directly if the decision is made to cancel. 

Will there be any academic concessions for students who are supposed to travel to Novel Coronavirus-affected areas as part of their studies and whose programs abroad are cancelled?
If any programs are cancelled, UBC will work with students on a case-by-case basis to determine how best to support them.

How is UBC supporting students, faculty and staff who are currently in Novel Coronavirus-affected areas, return to Canada?
UBC is in direct contact with students, faculty and staff who are known to be in Novel Coronavirus-affected areas, to ensure they are aware of the situation and have the health information, resources and contacts they need. The university will provide additional support to those abroad who wish to return to Canada, on a case-by-case basis.

What is the best way to ensure I get support while on UBC-related travel, if it’s required?
Travellers with Canadian citizenship are advised to register their travel with the Canadian government here https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration. Travellers from the UBC community, regardless of citizenship, are further advised to book their travel through https://finance.ubc.ca/travel.

UBC works with a service provider, International SOS (iSOS), to advise and support travelling students, faculty, and staff. For further details visit https://finance.ubc.ca/travel/plan/travel-safety.

I have cold/flu symptoms, but I haven’t travelled to a Novel Coronavirus-affected area. What should I do?
Information is available at HealthLink BC including advice on how best to treat cold/flu symptoms.

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