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Harvard Prohibits All Official International Travel and Non-Essential Domestic Air Travel, ‘Strongly Discourages' Large Events

Senior members of Harvard's central administration, including University Provost Alan M. Garber '76, work in Massachusetts Hall.
Senior members of Harvard's central administration, including University Provost Alan M. Garber '76, work in Massachusetts Hall. By Sydney R. Mason
By Michelle G. Kurilla and Ruoqi Zhang, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard is prohibiting all official international and non-essential domestic University air travel and “strongly discourages” any nonessential meetings with more than 100 attendees, according to a University-wide email sent by University Provost Alan M. Garber ’76, Executive Vice President Katie N. Lapp, and Harvard University Health Services Director Giang T. Nguyen Friday afternoon.

Academic classes and dining operations remain normal, but with “heightened cleaning protocols,” they wrote.

“Meetings or events of any size should be reconsidered,” a University webpage for coronavirus-related advisory information now reads.

The University also encouraged affiliates to prepare to work from home and replace in-person meetings with teleconferencing.

The novel coronavirus has infected 95,333 people worldwide as of Friday morning, according to the World Health Organization. The virus now poses a “very high” risk on a global level, according to the organization.

Harvard Women in Computer Science announced the cancellation of its annual WeCode conference — originally scheduled for this weekend — in a statement Thursday, citing an advisory from University officials against international and nonessential domestic travels.

By Friday noon, Massachusetts had one confirmed and another seven presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Two schools in Wellesley, Mass. dismissed students early on Friday when a parent tested positive for the virus, according to a school announcement.

Harvard’s announcement listed preventative measures to stay healthy, including coughing and sneezing into one’s arm, replacing handshakes with elbow bumps, and washing hands more often than usual.

In addition to the suggested habits, the announcement also encouraged people to prepare devices to work from home and practice using Zoom.

They wrote in the email that University leaders and school officials are meeting frequently.

“We recognize the challenges this coronavirus outbreak presents for our community and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation, assistance, and ongoing efforts to prevent the transmission of disease,” they wrote.

He added that the University will continue to send regular announcements and update Harvard’s coronavirus website.

—Staff writer Michelle G. Kurilla can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MichelleKurilla.

—Staff writer Ruoqi Zhang can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RuoqiZhang3.

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