Anxious Families in Kerala Urge Govt to Bring Back Students from Wuhan as Virus Epidemic Spreads

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Thiruvananthapuram: With the situation in Wuhan, suspected to be the epicentre of the new Coronavirus outbreak, worsening, parents of Kerala students in the Chinese province are desperately hoping their wards reach home as early as possible.

At present, there are about 63 Indian students pursuing their MBBS degrees from Wuhan University. Of them, 34 are from Kerala. The number of fatalities in China from the Coronavirus epidemic has risen to 106, with health authorities reporting 24 more deaths on Tuesday.

Jaya, whose elder daughter Rama is a final-year MBBS student in Wuhan, is unable to hold back her tears while describing her daughter’s plight. The resident of Marthandam in Kanyakumari district said, “Whenever I speak to her, she is crying and asks only one thing — when are we going to be taken back. She keeps saying she wants to come back home.”

“I am very scared about the situation. The students are staying inside hostel rooms. They had kept some food in stock, but even that is getting over now. I can’t rest peacefully till my child returns home,” Jaya said

Another woman, Nirmala, whose daughter is in Wuhan, appealed to the government to take concrete steps. “She keeps crying. She is very scared and keeps asking if she will be able to see us all. I appeal to the government to bring back our children at the earliest.”

S Vijaykumar, whose daughter Akhila Jasmine is a fourth-year student at Wuhan university, said that though she had informed him there was no shortage of food, he and his wife Anitha Jasmine were spending sleepless nights.

He said the family has contacted the Chief Minister’s Office, Minister of State V Muraleedharan and former CM Ommen Chandy. Vijayakumar said, “We understand the children can be brought back only if the Chinese government gives a go-ahead. We hope they return home soon. That is our only appeal to the government.”

“They have no health problems. But the students are worried as the situation there is worsening. They have packed their bags and are hoping to be airlifted soon”, he added.

Their hostel is located close to the Wuhan wet market (where dead and live animals are sold in the open), which is believed to be the starting point of the virus outbreak and Wuhan hospital, where thousands of the virus affected are undergoing treatment, he said.

Though its a one-month vacation now for the Chinese new year, Vijaykumar said his daughter and some other students of the fourth and fifth year decided to stay back as they wanted to use the library and prepare for the upcoming examinations.

Vijaykumar, along with six other families of students from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, met here on Tuesday morning. Some of them met Health minister KK Shylaja and were assured of all possible help from the state government.

Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the central government is planning to send a plane to Wuhan to evacuate Indians and preparations are underway to bring them back.

Vinay, a student of Wuhan University, said they were all living on the campus and were very scared. “We are living on the campus, but as the hospital is nearby, we are all really scared. Every day, we hear that at least 200-250 new people have contracted the virus. We do not move out of our campus, and stay in our hostel rooms with our masks on,” he said, adding they are in touch with the embassy officials.

Dr MK Showkath Ali, Advisor of the state Health and Family Welfare Department, said six of the seven samples of people who were under shifted to isolation wards in the state have tested negative for the virus and reports of only person is awaited.

A total of 436 people who returned to Kerala from China over the past few days have been kept under observation by the health authorities. A visiting Central team of doctors on Tuesday said there was “nothing to worry” about the situation in Kerala and expressed satisfaction with the state’s preparedness.

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