International students remaining in Wuhan, China — where the government has issued a lockdown to avoid the spread of the deadly coronavirus — report being provided surgical masks and being asked to stay indoors.
“As I write this message, the school is on lockdown as the school authorities are putting in place measures to protect the remaining foreign students on campus,” emailed an international student who identified himself as @Vince Vela Nova from Ghana who is doing a post-graduate degree program in land resource management.“
There are just a handful of Chinese students around as most of them have gone back home to celebrate the Chinese New Year,” he wrote. “This morning the international office provided the students with surgical masks and entreated every one of us to stay indoors.”
Medical students from India training in Wuhan have been advised to stay home and away from their hospital workplace, according to the Hindustan Times. While about 600-700 medical students from India study in Wuhan, most have returned home for the winter-New Year’s break from school.
A 45-year-old teacher from India working at an international school has been admitted to the hospital with flu-like symptoms, reported the Telegraph.
The outflow of international students to points around the globe for winter break has caused rapid anxiety.
"My niece is stuck in Wuhan China, with airport closed she can't travel to India," tweeted @harinatha with a video showing a van blocking a roadway. "Please get Indian citizens safely back to India till this virus crisis is over? Few more Indian students, not knowing what to do! University Roads blocked, Please help!!"
@DrSJaishankar— harinatha (@harinatharasu) January 22, 2020
My niece is stuck in wuhan China, with airport closed she can't travel to India. Please get indian citizens safely back to India till this virus crisis is over? Few more Indian students, not knowing what to do! University Roads blocked, Please help !! pic.twitter.com/S5gzze3217
"There are Maldivian students in Wuhan [who] need immediate attention as the virus is spreading so fast,” tweeted @Anjumaa on Monday, Jan. 20, imploring the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives to “take an action.”
Wuhan of China is in danger of outbreak of coronavirus-related pneumonia. There are Maldivian Students in Wuhan need immediate attention as the virus is spreading so fast. @MoFAmv need to take an action @abdulla_shahid https://t.co/eIWsJeFfrr— Anjum Dark Stone (@Anjumaa) January 20, 2020
Friends in Wuhan "are scared of how fast the virus has spread & they also fear it will mutate & affect students when they get back from the school break," tweeted Yarella Espinoza, an English professor in Osorno, Chile.
I've got a friend living in Wuhan. He'll stay at home for 10 days; he already bought groceries & supplies & many ppl are doing the same. They're scared of how fast the virus has spread & they also fear it will mutate & affect students when they get back from the school break.— Yarella Espinoza (@yarellacraft) January 21, 2020
Wuhan is a university center in China, with more than 30 universities, and international students from around the world. In the U.S., Chinese students comprise more than 33% of the 1,095,299 international students studying there.
At the University of Illinois, which has more than 6,000 Chinese students among its nearly 14,000 international students, the health center has begun screening students who "come for care presenting with respiratory illness, with and without a travel history to areas with confirmed cases of coronavirus infections."
"All appropriate students will be masked and those of particular concern will be masked and then seen in an isolation room," according to Chanelle Thompson, the university's chief communications officer.
Neighboring University of Indiana hosts more than 10,000 international students, according to the Institute for International Education. Amber Denney, assistant direction of strategic communications at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), said the school is following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and WHO guidelines.
"We are evaluating the situation," Denney said. "No students are scheduled to travel to that area but we have no clear assessment of students who have traveled and been to that region." Health officials are at the ready, she said, to respond to anyone with flu-like respiratory symptoms.
Columbia University in New York City hosts nearly 16,000 international students — the fourth-largest population of international students in the U.S. — and issued an advisory to its community and says it is monitoring the situation.
Jennifer Stevens, Ph.D., and interim Associate Dean for the College of Visual and Performing Arts at James Madison University, said her school has postponed an exchange program.
"We just can't send them abroad in good faith at the moment," she told VOA. Emails and calls to other universities with large international and Chinese student populations were not returned.
Panic over the potential spread of the virus reached suburban Washington, as residents and parents took issue with the Fairfax County Public School system's hosting a group of Chinese middle-school students.
Ping Song, whose daughter attends Longfellow, said in the video above that in light of the coronavirus outbreak in China, he and his wife decided he would pick their daughter up from school early.
He said people discuss the situation on WeChat every day and that he and his wife were were being cautious, just in case.
"Allowing 20-ish Chinese’s exchange students of Yichang, 214 miles from Wuhan-epic center or coronavirus outbreak to come to Longfellow MS this afternoon completely irresponsible! If anyone got the virus, it’ll be *on* you!" tweeted @FairfaxNova to the superintendent of schools in the county.
@FCPSSupt @fcpsnews Allowing 20ish Chinese’s exchange students of Yichang, 214 miles from Wuhan-epic center or coronavirus outbreak to come to Longfellow Ms this afternoon completely irresponsible! If anyone got the virus, it’ll be *on* you!— FairfaxNova (@FairfaxNova) January 22, 2020
Writing on Saturday, Jan. 18, Weijia Cai (@cai_weijia) compared China's response to the coronavirus to the outbreak of the severe-acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus there in 2003.
"Comparing with the outbreak of SARS in 2003, when I was a graduate student for medical virology program in Wuhan University, China obtained great achievements in many fields of dealing with a novel virus. I believe my hometown will defeat this outbreak. Bless Wuhan!"
The CDC started a "public health entry screening" on Friday, Jan. 17, at San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), and Los Angeles (LAX) airports and said it will expand that to Atlanta (ATL) and Chicago (ORD) airports.
"This is a rapidly evolving situation," they wrote on their website.
The CDC has reported that cases of the virus have spread to Taiwan, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
CDC has updated information about an outbreak of novel #coronavirus in China with cases exported to Thailand and Japan. See new information for healthcare providers and laboratorians on who to test and what specimens to take to detect #2019-nCoV. https://t.co/6pRrNuYAni pic.twitter.com/qa7EQXVcwE— CDC (@CDCgov) January 18, 2020