coronavirus u of t

U of T will likely shut down if coronavirus situation in Toronto worsens

As the number of cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus continues to increase daily both in Canada and across the globe, many are understandably becoming wary of public spaces and gatherings.

China and Italy have put entire populations on lockdown, while in the U.S. officials have called off large gatherings and schools have cancelled in-person classes and evacuated campuses to try and prevent further community spread.

Though Canada's tally of 97 confirmed cases of the virus pales in comparison to America's 1,000 and counting, workplaces and universities north of the border are considering what measures may need to be taken if the situation worsens.

Professors at the University of Toronto have said it is "likely" that the institution will temporarily shut down its campuses and move classes online, in speaking with CityNews.

U of T has been making contingency plans for months now and is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation. If it worsens in Toronto, precautions like those taken by schools in the U.S. may have to come into play.

A special group of senior administrators has been selected to help coordinate the university's response if outbreaks reach pandemic levels, but, according to the Varsity, faculties and campuses may take different steps and there may not be one cohesive course of action for the university as a whole.

"The University follows the advice of Public Health authorities and at this time classes and events continue," a recent statement on the school's website reads. "The risk of community transmission in the Greater Toronto Area remains low."

Meanwhile, major conferences and concerts slated to come to Toronto have been cancelled over coronavirus fears, the city's sports teams are preparing to play in empty arenas and at least two local offices have had to disinfect their spaces and send workers home after employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Health officials continue to remind the public to stay home from work or school if they show any symptoms of respiratory illness, while  workplaces in the city are already starting to instate policies that mandate self-isolation after any sort of overseas travel — a prudent move given the fact that all of Ontario's latest cases have been in individuals who just returned from international trips.

At the time of publication, there have been more than 118,000 cases in at least 113 countries and 4,200 deaths from the communicable disease globally. Canada saw its first coronavirus patient fatality, an elderly resident of a long-term care home, earlier this week.

Scientists estimate that up to 70 per cent of Canadians could end up becoming infected, but most cases have been extremely mild — more than half of them worldwide have recovered — and the mortality rate hovers around 3.4 per cent.

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