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Stony Brook University cancels Lunar New Year celebration on coronavirus concerns

Travelers wearing protective face masks Friday in the

Travelers wearing protective face masks Friday in the arrival area at San Francisco International Airport, as many fear the 2019 novel coronavirus that is believed to have originated in China. Credit: PETER DASILVA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/PETER DASILVA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

A Stony Brook University Chinese New Year celebration scheduled for Saturday has been canceled because of coronavirus concerns as university officials continue to assist the roughly 40 Stony Brook students unable to leave China because of a government lockdown to control the virus’ spread.

The university’s Confucius Institute and China Center canceled the annual Lunar New Year event “out of an abundance of caution,” said a statement from Yi-Xian Qin, acting vice president and vice provost for global affairs at Stony Brook.

At least two Lunar New Year celebrations scheduled in Nassau County late last month also were canceled or scaled back.

Meanwhile, there are no plans to cancel or make changes to Sunday’s Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade and Festival in Manhattan, said in an email a representative for the sponsoring organization, Better Chinatown USA.

Stony Brook has been working with international students stranded in China who requested a leave of absence from classes, a university spokeswoman said. Friday was the deadline for undergraduates to request the leave.

A Stony Brook professor is among 195 Americans who arrived on Jan. 29 from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. He remains in a 14-day quarantine at March Air Reserve Base in California.

In New York, samples from 22 people suspected of carrying the virus have been sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing for the virus; 17 have come back as negative, the state health department said Friday afternoon. Nassau County health officials said Jan. 27 that a sample from someone who “passed through” Nassau tested negative. There have been no confirmed cases in the state.

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