Columbia University cancels classes in New York due to coronavirus fears

Columbia University is canceling two days of classes this week because a person at the New York school is under quarantine from the rapidly spreading coronavirus, the university's president announced on Sunday.

The suspension of activities on Monday and Tuesday will help officials shift to remote classes for the rest of the week and help prevent the virus from spreading, the school said. All university-facilitated travel outside the U.S. is suspended until further notice.

"I am writing this evening to notify everyone that, because a member of our community has been quarantined as a result of exposure to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we have decided to suspend classes on Monday and Tuesday," President Lee C. Bollinger said in a statement. "I want to emphasize that the individual who has been quarantined has not been diagnosed at this point with the virus."

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Columbia University is canceling two days of classes this week because a person at the New York City school is under quarantine from the rapidly spreading coronavirus, school officials announced on Sunday.<br data-cke-eol="1">

Columbia University is canceling two days of classes this week because a person at the New York City school is under quarantine from the rapidly spreading coronavirus, school officials announced on Sunday.<br data-cke-eol="1"> (iStock)

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He added the university is not "shutting down" and all non-classroom activities will continue as planned -- even with the new travel and event restrictions. He didn't say whether the person in quarantine was a student or faculty member and reiterated there is not a confirmed case of the virus on campus.

University leaders will inform the Columbia University community in the coming days about their plans for remote instruction starting on Wednesday and continuing until the start of Spring Break on Friday.

In a previous email on Sunday, the school announced it was strongly discouraging non-essential events of more than 25 people due to the rapidly changing information about COVID-19.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared the coronavirus outbreak a state disaster emergency on Saturday, which will be in effect until September 7.

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"[I] authorize all necessary State agencies to take appropriate action to assist local governments and individuals in containing, preparing for, responding to and recovering from this state disaster emergency, to protect state and local property, and to provide such other assistance as is necessary to protect public health, welfare, and safety." Cuomo said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio recommended steps to take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the city, which include washing hands and waiting for the train if the one you're getting on is "too packed."

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Over 100 infected cases of the virus have been recorded in New York in the past week, with cases reaching double digits in NYC.

"With the number of COVID-19 cases growing, we know there’s a lot of anxiety and confusion out there," he said.