Bushfires shut down Universities in Canberra, Australia

Australia News

Australia is facing a major crisis as bushfires blaze through Victoria and New South Wales. The Australian bushfires have claimed 24 human lives and around half a billion wild animals till now. Not to forget, the thousands of homes that it has destroyed and displaced thousands of people. 

Even though Australia encounters fire season every summer, this year has been the worst. Hot temperatures, nearly 48.9 degrees Celcius, and strong winds have caused the wildfires to spread rapidly. Climate change, affecting weather patterns, has also been said to have intensified the bushfires. 

So what does this mean for foreign students returning to Australia after the Christmas holidays? 

Smoke from the bushfires has caused air pollution to rise, making the air quality reach hazardous levels. New South Wales declared a state emergency beginning last Friday. 

Canberra is the worst sufferer with the air quality becoming the worst in the world. The city has been covered in thick orange cloud due to the smoke from the bushfires. 

Both the University of Canberra and the Australian National University have closed their campuses due to poor air quality. 

ANU issued a statement saying that due to hazardous conditions around the Australian Capital Territory and its surroundings, the campuses at Acton, Kioloa and Mt Stromlo have been closed on 6th and 7th January. 

The University of Canberra website stated that due to hazardous smoke conditions and power outages, the Bruce campus would remain closed for 48 hours from 5th January. 

Both the Universities have urged their students to follow the guidelines issued by the ACT Health Directorate. The guidelines include: 

  • Not using air conditioners that draw air from outside into the house 
  • Staying cool and hydrated 
  • If anyone has a heart or lung condition, they should ensure taking the medications on time 

University campuses elsewhere remain open for now. However, students have been urged to avoid outdoor activity and stay indoors, especially those who suffer from respiratory ailments. 

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Anshul Singhal

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