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Portage cancels upcoming events due to virus fears

College officials say risk too high for virus to spread at community events.

As the NHL contemplates cancelling hockey games due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Portage College has canceled upcoming events including one that was bringing NHL alumni to the Lac La Biche campus.

The Student Scholarship Fundraising Dinner scheduled for March 28 has been postponed until further notice, college officials revealed this week. The event was to include NHL greats Doug Gilmour, Shayne Corson and Kevin McClelland, and serves as an annual fundraiser for student initiatives and financial opportunities.

The St. Paul campus International Street Foods Culinary Adventure, set for March 13, and the Lac La Biche campus annual Round Dance that was slated for March 14 have also been canceled.

For community safety

The decisions were made after college officials consulted with an online risk assessment schedule that has been created by Health Canada to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak that is affecting global populations.

“We felt the need to follow the recommendations from the Government of Canada on COVID-19,” said Portage College President Nancy Broadent in a statement. “Mass gatherings are identified as high risk. We used the tool to review our upcoming events to ensure we protect our community members.”

Already-purchaed tickets for the St. Paul food event and the Lac La Biche scholarship fundraising dinner will be refuned.

“It is very disheartening to announce the cancellation and postponement of these events, however, our health as individuals needs to remain the primary focus,” said Broadbent.

The government's current recommendations on precautions dealing with the COVID 19 pandemic can be found here.

The POST has contacted college officials to ask if there are considerations for full campus closures as the fallout of the virus pandemic continues. In some communities in the United States, schools have been closed as officials try to reduce the spread of the respiratory virus.

As of Thursday morning, the NHL had yet to cancel games. On Tuesday, the NBA canceled the remainder of its professional basketball season after a member of the Utah Jazz was diagnosed with the virus.