KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 — Universiti Malaya (UM) has decided to replace all face-to-face classes with online sessions for a week amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, despite just 15 cases reported in Malaysia.
“Universiti Malaya (UM) has taken and will continue to take proactive steps in dealing with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) including the coordination and implementation of instructions issued by the authorities from time to time,” UM deputy vice-chancellor (Academic and International) Professor Kamila Ghazali said in an email this evening to academic staff, sighted by CodeBlue.
“Taking into consideration the latest development of the outbreak, the University Management has decided that all face to face teaching and learning activities (eg lectures, tutorials and labs) will be REPLACED with non-face to face teaching and learning activities from 17 – 23 February 2020. Lectures will be as usual starting from 24 February 2020.”
Academic staff were ordered to upload learning materials on Spectrum, UM’s online portal for students to access slides, before February 17 so that students can access and download them from that date.
The public university also ordered lecturers to ensure the delivery of all lessons planned for the semester.
“Otherwise it is recommended that replacement classes are conducted,” said Kamila.
She also sent a similar email to UM students, but added that all undergraduate students and postgraduate candidates (new and active students/candidates), as well as mobility students arriving or returning from China, are to undergo compulsory health screening.
“Students/ Candidates will only be allowed to attend lectures and other teaching and learning activities commencing 24 February 2020 onwards after going through the 14-day isolation period and upon receiving the Release Form from the Student Health Clinic (SHC), Universiti Malaya,” said the UM deputy vice-chancellor in the email sighted by CodeBlue.
A UM lecturer slammed the administration’s decision to cancel all face-to-face lectures, tutorials, and labs.
“It’s going to lead to panic,” she told CodeBlue on condition of anonymity.
“So hard to not feed into this frenzy and I cannot believe our university is taking such measures.”
She questioned if this was an instruction by the Education Ministry, pointing out that the Ministry of Health (MOH) has not given such advice either on its public platforms.
“I’m actually awaiting to hear if all bedside teaching of medical students stops as well!”
MOH yesterday reported the first local transmission of the China-linked novel coronavirus in a Malaysian woman who was infected from her brother when they celebrated Chinese New Year in Sungai Petani, Kedah.
Fifteen 2019-nCoV infections have been reported in Malaysia as of today, comprising 11 Chinese nationals and four Malaysians. No cases of severe disease or death were reported.
Neighboring Singapore reportedly moved its disease outbreak response level to Orange today, one step below Red that indicates an out-of-control pandemic, as 33 people have tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus.
The novel coronavirus has killed over 600 people to date, most in mainland China, with over 31,000 infections, mostly concentrated in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, CNN reported.
According to the BBC, citing Chinese authorities, most of those who died from 2019-nCoV were above 60 and had suffered from other medical issues. The virus causes severe acute respiratory infection and poses symptoms like a fever and dry cough, but most people infected are likely to recover, like they would from a flu.