Foreign students’ campus life amid epidemic across China

Instead of traveling during the winter vacation, Pakistani student Muhammad Waleed Bin Zafar studied pharmacology for two hours every afternoon, reports AFP.

Now that teachers have told us not to travel, I have more time to spend on my weak subjects in school, said Muhammad, majoring in the clinical science of integrated Chinese and Western medicine in the Shanxi University of Chinese Medicine, northern China's Shanxi Province.

Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, Chinese universities have taken comprehensive measures to safeguard the health of international students such as restricting access to outsiders, distributing masks and regularly checking body temperatures.

My campus life has barely changed, except that I make a video call every day telling my family I'm safe, Muhammad said.

Faculty workers sterilize our dormitory, and teachers provide authoritative information as well as psychological counseling services. I believe the campus is safer than anywhere else, said Afghan student Shadab Abdul Samir from Taiyuan University of Technology (TUT), who described the measures as reassuring and necessary.

According to the TUT administration, the school of international exchanges has provided food delivery to the students to avoid cross-infection at the dining hall and uploaded online courses so that the students will not fall behind.

Agba Chinaza Frances is a Nigerian student studying in Shanxi University. At the beginning of the epidemic, her mother called her three times a day asking her to go home. I explained to her what was going on here and what the local government and school had done to protect us, she said. Traveling is more dangerous, so I'm not leaving.

She said she could finish her assignments in her dorm, and she also does indoor exercises to keep fit. Statistics show some 600 foreign students have stayed on campus in the province, and none of them have been infected so far, according to the provincial education department.

We have already required universities to take full measures since Jan. 21 to ensure the safety of the international students, said Han Ruiyong, an official in charge of international affairs from the department. Meanwhile, overseas students are paying close attention to the battle against the epidemic.

Muhammad said he was impressed by China's efforts of mobilizing tens of thousands of people for the building of two makeshift hospitals in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

I've never seen any country mobilize their citizens like China. People from everywhere are rushing to the rescue, and a hospital with 1,000 beds was built in 10 days, Muhammad said. I don't think there are any difficulties that can defeat Chinese people. China's daily new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus pneumonia outside Hubei, the epicenter province in the outbreak, have dropped for 13 consecutive days to 115 by Feb. 16, a sharp decrease from 890 on Feb. 3, according to the National Health Commission.

Waled Yahya, a TUT doctor student from Libya, said Wuhan was a heroic city as it had made a tremendous sacrifice to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. When the epidemic is over, I will pay a visit there to figure out what happened and how they triumphed, he said.

Wuhan, and later a few other cities in Hubei Province, have been sealed off to aid the nation's fight against the coronavirus.