Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and UBC’s response

If you are a manager of staff whose work is not computer-based, please print this email and display it in a common work area for them to review.

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 and for Canadian travelers”. Although the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed BC’s first presumptive case today, we have no reports of any Coronavirus illness among our students, faculty or staff.

We understand our students, faculty, staff and alumni have questions about how the university is responding. We take the safety and security of our community, both in Canada and abroad, very seriously and have convened a group of stakeholders from across the university to plan and coordinate actions as new information emerges. The following steps have been taken so far:

  • Student health services in Vancouver and the Okanagan have consulted with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) 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.
  • We have posted information about the Coronavirus on our Safety and Risk Services site and on, so students, faculty and staff have access to BCCDC information there.
  • Posters are now up in student residences advising students of Coronavirus and tips to avoid illness and transmission of illness.

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 before travel.

We ask that anyone expecting visitors to campus from affected areas contact the host unit to determine if that visit may be delayed or affected by the situation overseas.

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

As a reminder to our community, the advice from health agencies on avoiding the spread of infection 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.

See the following sites for more information:

Please be advised that will be updated with the latest developments on our campuses and other sites. We suggest you check the site in the days ahead as we continue to monitor this developing issue and keep our community informed.

Marcia Buchholz
Interim Vice-President, Human Resources

Ainsley Carry
Vice-President, Students

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