Columbia University has canceled classes for two days and will be teaching courses online for the next week after a “member of the community” was quarantined following exposure to coronavirus COVID-19.
The quarantined person has not been diagnosed with the coronavirus, but university president Lee Bollinger announced in a statement that the school is taking extra precaution.
“We have decided to suspend classes on Monday and Tuesday. This suspension of activities will allow us to prepare to shift to remote classes for the remainder of the week. I want to emphasize that the individual who has been quarantined has not been diagnosed at this point with the virus,” the statement read.
“Please understand that the decision to suspend classes does not mean that the University is shutting down. All non-classroom activities, including research, will continue in accordance with the new travel and events restrictions announced recently. At this point, just to restate what is important to know, we do not have a confirmed case of the virus on campus. This action is intended to prevent the virus from spreading.”
In the United States, coronavirus cases have topped 500 across 34 states with 22 deaths — most of the deaths in the state of Washington.
The coronavirus mainly comes from animals and a majority of those who were infected early either worked at or frequently visited the Huanan seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, according to The Guardian. The virus is similar to Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (Mers).
The Wuhan coronavirus is transmitted from person to person through “droplet transmission.” That means an infected person can pass the virus by sneezing or coughing on another person as well as by direct contact.
While a majority of the cases have been detected in China, it has now reached many countries around the world including the United States. It has also been confirmed in Italy, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and many other eastern countries.