Coronavirus: Indians studying at Wuhan medical university under lockdown
New Delhi: Amidst the lockdown in Wuhan City considering the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak in China claiming 41 lives and nearly 1300 confirmed cases till date; Indian Medical students pursuing MBBS course from Wuhan Medical University, are trapped with nowhere to go.
The city and surroundings have about 700 Indian students, over 500 of them studying medicine in Wuhan city's medical colleges and universities. Luckily most of them had left for home for the Chinese New Year holidays but some of them had stayed behind who are now under the lockdown.
With the city being lockdown and the hospitals crowded with infected patients; all the shops are shut and the students are running out of food. Though they had stocked the food supply and basic essentials, it is unsure how many days it would last now.
According to recent media accounts, the Indian embassy in Beijing is constantly tracking the health status of over 40 students in Wuhan at the moment. However, the students are perplexed and scared. 25 medicos stuck in the city are from Kerala.
The medicos completing their internships in Wuhan had been earlier advised to stay away from their hospital residencies following the outbreak by the Chinese authorities.
Speaking to TOI, a final year medical student at College of Medicine, Wuhan University, stated, "We are sitting in the hostel room, unsure of our future. Every day we are hearing of people dying around us in Wuhan. We are scared and helpless. We need immediate help from our country."
"It is not fear of hunger that worries us at the moment. We are scared that with no air, train or bus ticket from Wuhan to other destinations in China, we are trapped with no help or support. We can't go out as the Chinese authorities have warned us against moving out from the premise. There is constant inspection being conducted by the authorities," he added.
Before the complete shutdown, some of the students had managed to get out of the city while others are still stuck. A group of 10-15 students, mainly Keralites and Tamilians, had headed for Guangzhou airport.
"One of my batchmates, a Keralite, is still in the hostel. He and others are staying there in fear. They are unable to come off as transport systems are halted. Two Malayali girls whom I know are also staying back," a fourth-year MBBS student at Wuhan University, who is stranded in Guangzhou; informed TNIE. The student had left Wuhan after nine doctors and four nurses of the hospital got infected and he is currently trying to catch a flight from Guangzhou to Kolkata.
China has become a major destination for Indian medical students with their numbers sharply increasing to 23,000 in the last few years.
India's Union Health Ministry has issued a high alert with all up and arms to prevent its spread in the country.
According to the Health Ministry, there is no need to panic for Indian civilians as the authorities are on alert and the preparedness is sturdy.
However, citizens who are planning to visit China in recent times; are advised to follow the travel advisory issued by the Ministry containing certain precautionary measures while visiting China.
The health ministry has instructed airport health organisations at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Cochin to screen passengers coming from mainland China.
Besides screening, passengers travelling from China are being requested to report to the nearest public health facility in case they develop any symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat.
Travel advisory to travellers visiting China:
Travellers to China should follow simple public health measures at all times as under:
- Observe good personal hygiene
- Practice frequent handwashing with soap
- Follow respiratory etiquettes - cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness, such as cough, runny nose etc.
- Avoid contact with live animals and consumption of raw/undercooked meats
- Avoid travel to farms, live animal markets or where animals are slaughtered
- Wear a mask if you have respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose
All travellers to China (in particular Wuhan city) to monitor their health closely.
If you feel sick and have fever and cough:
- Cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing
- Don't plan travels if sick
- Seek medical attention promptly
If you feel sick on flight, while traveling back to India:
- Inform the airlines crew about illness
- Seek mask from the airlines crew
- Avoid close contact with family members or fellow travelers
- Follow the directions of airline crew while disembarking
If you feel sick on flight or at the time of disembarkation:
- Report to airport health authorities/immigration
- Follow the direction of the airport health officer
If you feel sick within a span of one month after return from China
- Report the illness to the nearest health facility and also inform the treating doctor regarding your travel history.