Update (March 5): The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has activated a mandatory remote work policy for its Seattle-based employees, effective through at least March 31.

Italy’s education minister, Lucia Azzolina, announced today (March 4) that her government has ordered a nationwide closure of schools until March 15 due to the spread of coronavirus, according to Bloomberg. Schools and universities in northern Italy, where the outbreak was centered, had already shut down roughly 10 days ago. Currently, according to The Guardian, more than 2,500 people in Italy have been infected. 

The BBC reports that a school closure in Japan will last through the end of the academic year in late March. Classes are also suspended in China, and the nation’s roughly 180 million students are now using an online learning platform in order to continue their studies, reports the South China Morning...

These developments have prompted universities in the West to reevaluate study abroad programs and consider moving classes online, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Philip Altbach, the founding director of Boston University’s Center for International Higher Education, tells Times Higher Ed that there is “no question that international student enrollments will take a hit, and probably a reasonably significant one, in the coming year.”

There are also growing concerns about how to protect university communities in the wake of the virus. A staff member from Rice University who had traveled internationally has possibly been exposed to the coronavirus, causing 17 people to be quarantined, reports the Chronicle. On the East Coast, an employee of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center tested positive, and in Washington state, students from the Lake Washington Institute of Technology may have been exposed when they visited a nursing home where several patients have since died from the virus.

See “Coronavirus Precautions Stifle Research” 

There are now 85 reported cases of the coronavirus in the UK, a number that increased by 34 in a single day, reports The Guardian, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo confirms that there are six cases of coronavirus in his state, where a Westchester patient infected his wife, son, daughter, and neighbor.

According to CBS News, nine people infected with the coronavirus have now died in the US, with all deaths occurring in Washington state.

Amy Schleunes is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at aschleunes@the-scientist.com.

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