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The UWI activates Coronavirus response plan

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The UWI activates Coronavirus response plan

The UWI Regional Headquarters Jamaica. Wednesday, January 29, 2020—Since the news of the Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has been closely monitoring the situation in China. The UWI has an administrative presence and 36 students enrolled in a BSc Software Engineering programme at UWI-China Institute of Information Technology (UWICIIT) which allows for two years of study at the Global Institute of Software Technology (GIST). At this time of inter-semester break, 28 students and one administrator are currently in Suzhou, China.

The UWI is working closely with GIST and other relevant local authorities in China to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff.  It is also engaging global precautionary measures as well as the positions adopted by its stakeholder governments in relation to travel advisories and screening protocols. 

The city of Suzhou is not within the epicentre of the virus. Nevertheless, the GIST campus remains closed until February 23 when the new semester is expected to begin. There is continuous on-site support on the campus. Medical and screening protocols have also been established. 

The UWI leadership is in regular contact with GIST and is receiving situation reports. The University has also held meetings with the students and communicated directly with parents and guardians.  The next meeting with parents and guardians is planned for Friday, January 31.

Simultaneously, the University is collaborating with regional entities and agencies including the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), CARICOM Secretariat, Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs, and others in the regional management and response strategy.  It has also convened a group of experts to examine the issues and help inform decision-making.   

Tomorrow, Thursday, January 30, The UWI will host a Vice-Chancellor’s Forum which will offer informed analysis and perspectives.  The forum’s programme will include remarks from Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles and feature UWI health experts along with Dr Joy St. John, CARPHA’s Executive Director. It begins at 1:00 pm (Jamaica)/2:00 pm (Eastern Caribbean) at The UWI Regional Headquarters, and will be carried live on UWItv’s cable television channel and livestreamed on


About GIST

The Global Institute of Software Technology (GIST) is the host institution for The UWI China Institute of Information Technology (UWICIIT) BSc Software Engineering programme offered in China. The UWICIIT was formed through an agreement between the institutions and was officially opened in September of 2016. GIST is a Jiangsu government approved IT Specialist College with two campuses. The Suzhou New District (SND) campus is located in Suzhou Hi-Tech park area in the western part of Suzhou. Its facilities can accommodate 10,000 students. While the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) Campus is located at No. 567 Linquan Street, Suzhou Dushu Lake Science and Education Innovation District, SIP Suzhou, P.R. China

About The UWI

For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Studies Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); the UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. The world’s most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, has ranked The UWI among the top 600 universities in the world for 2019 and 2020, and the 40 best universities in Latin America and the Caribbean for 2018 and 2019. The UWI has been the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.  For more, visit