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With Rise in Omicron Cases, Cornell University Moves Exams Online, Issues High Alert

Days after several new Covid cases have been reported, Cornell University has moved final exams online and sent the campus into high alert, the university announced on Tuesday. (Representational image from Reuters)

Days after several new Covid cases have been reported, Cornell University has moved final exams online and sent the campus into high alert, the university announced on Tuesday. (Representational image from Reuters)

The universities's COVID-19 dashboard reported 903 new student cases over the past week, more than 700 of them detected since Saturday during a post-Thanks giving

Days after several new Covid cases have been reported, Cornell University has moved final exams online and sent the campus into high alert, the university announced on Tuesday.

In the last few days, there have been suspected cases of the new omicron variant, that has raised alarm among the university officials. The university in upstate New York said that 272 students have tested positive for the virus on the 24,000-student campus on Monday alone. Its COVID-19 dashboard reported 903 new student cases over the past week, more than 700 of them detected since Saturday during a post-Thanks giving spike among vaccinated students.

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“Cornell’s extensive surveillance testing (Monday) uncovered the likely early and rapid spread of the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 among our student population,” Joel Malina, vice president for university relations told AP. Joel added, “While preliminary, initial screening results indicate that the variant now accounts for a very high percentage of our positive COVID-19 cases.”

With only days remaining in the semester, Cornell President Martha Pollack moved the campus to high-alert status in an attempt to limit spread. Libraries and fitness centers were closed, sports were cancelled and students were encouraged to remain in Ithaca until receiving a negative COVID-19 test. The campus is scheduled to close for winter break at the end of the week, according to news agency AP.

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“It is obviously extremely dispiriting to have to take these steps,” Pollack said. “However, since the start of the pandemic, our commitment has been to follow the science and do all we can to protect the health of our faculty, staff, and students,” Pollack added.

New York had recorded 38 confirmed cases of the omicron variant as of Tuesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul said. Of them, 23 were in New York City, four were in Suffolk County and the others were scattered between Westchester, Broome, Nassau, Oneida and Onondaga counties. Cornell is located in Tompkins County.

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first published:December 16, 2021, 17:37 IST