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Two SA seminars cancelled over coronavirus fears

Travel ban scuppers seminars as universities ponder postponing visits from China

The Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa has cancelled two seminars with international speakers at short notice due to the global coronavirus outbreak. The seminars, slated for 18 and 19 February, were postponed on 7 February.

“Our guests’ university imposed a travel ban on all their staff for the month of February.  A new date will be communicated once the epidemic is over,” the HSRC said in a staff circular.

Both seminars centred on the future of work, focusing on social policy and technological transformation. They would have been presented by Rob Watts and Judith Bessant respectively. Both are based at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia.

Meanwhile, Mamokgethi Phakeng, the vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, said on 5 February that students and others in China planning to visit the university have been “asked to delay their travels”.

No official cases of the virus have been reported in South Africa. The outbreak originated at the beginning of the year in Wuhan, China, and has resulted in hundreds of deaths.