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EMU COVID-19 Awareness Committee's Statement on Online Education Decision "EMU Senate Decision is Right"

Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) Covid-19 Awareness Committee made a statement regarding the online education decision made by the Senate. The statement includes the following:

EMU Senate has decided to continue education on online platforms during the 2020-21 Academic Year Fall Semester which was previously announced to commence on the 12 October. While, as a committee, we comprehend the reactions of some shop-keepers regarding this matter, we feel the need to remind everyone that we as a community should act judiciously. It should not be forgotten that without health, economic growth cannot be achieved. Making health-oriented decision during this pandemic period should always be the first priority.

On 23 September 2020, there were 14 confirmed cases in our country. It was announced that 4 of the cases were local. The recent results and number of cases identified show that the Covid-19 virus is still in circulation within the society. Adding the students to this circulation environment will increase the burden on the health system and will trigger possible high infection risk within the society. It should not be forgotten that the confirmed cases only reflect the number of people who are detected and, the fact that number of asymptomatic cases in theory is much more than the identified cases should not be ignored. The lack of a study conducted on the matter in our country and, the uncertainty regarding the increase in the cases in TRNC during the last 2-3 weeks suggest that there is not a certain insight on the asymptomatic cases. The situation is similar or even worse in nearby geographies such as Turkey where most of our students are coming from. Furthermore, the sufficiency of medical parameters like number of available beds and intensive care units where there is still no pandemic hospital should be discussed. Similarly, the quarantine capacity and conditions needed for the coming students should also be discussed. There are 9,000 students possibly coming to EMU however, the capacity of quarantine that the university can offer is limited to only 200 students. Moreover, successful monitoring of contact tracing in an event of students coming to campus as well as, the predicted increase in the number of other respiratory tract infections during the fall are to put burden on the health system which we can say that there is no guarantee on the system being ready for such burden. It will be threatening to invite many international students to come to the island in regards public health and also for the safety of students either in EMU or overall in TRNC.

As a result, we believe that the EMU Senate decision should be taken as an example. It is crucial to take such decision not only for the health of the society but also maintaining the safety of the students within the present conditions. Economic distress of the shop-keepers is understandable but, the first priority of the universities should not be economic problems. Our university’s priority

is the health and safety of our students, staff and community. The decision taken is to protect Famagusta society as well as the shop-keepers and is for the benefit of all the parties within the context of “health comes first” notion. An opposing decision can cause much more harm to society in regards of both health and economy.

EMU Covid-19 Awareness Committee

Prof. Dr. Nahide GÖKÇORA - Dr. Fazıl Küçük Medicine Faculty Dean

Prof. Dr. Sibel SAKARYA - Koç University Public Health Expert

Assist. Prof. Dr. Mehmet İLKTAÇ – EMU Pharmacy Faculty Dean, Medical Microbiology Expert

Assist. Prof. Dr. Mümtaz GÜRAN – EMU Dr. Fazıl Küçük Medicine Faculty, Medical Microbiology Expert

Assist. Prof. Dr. Levent EKER – EMU Health Sciences Faculty, Public Health Expert

Assist. Prof. Dr. Tevhide ZİVER – EMU Health Sciences Faculty, Medical Microbiology E