Vincentian students in China take precautions for coronavirus outbreak
Press Release
January 31, 2020

Vincentian students in China take precautions for coronavirus outbreak

Two Vincentians, University of the West Indies(UWI) students, majoring in Software Engineering currently in China, are buckling down in the face of the coronavirus outbreak which has now spread to all provinces.

One of the students, who wished to remain unnamed, told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, January 29, that the city of Suzhou, where she is studying at the Global Institute of Software Technology(GIST), is not under lock down.

She explained that Suzhou is three to six hours away from Wuhan, depending on the mode of transportation, but they must still take precautions.

The 28 UWI Mona and CaveHill campus students who remained in China for the winter break which lasts until February 28, are being told by the school not to panic.

The outbreak of the coronavirus, a new strain previously unknown, began in the city of Wuhan but it has spread to all 31 provinces in China.

The number of cases are climbing every day, and up to press time, 213 persons are said to have died. Some 8,100 cases have been reported within China. Hubei province, whose capital is Wuhan, is contending with more than half of those cases.

Furthermore, yesterday, the World Health Organization(WHO) declared the novel corona virus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

Symptoms are reported to begin with a fever, followed by a dry cough then, after a week, it leads to shortness of breath with some patients needing hospital treatment. A smaller percentage of those infected are suffering from severe respiratory failure.

The student who spoke to SEARCHLIGHT said they have been advised to wear an N95/KN95 or general surgical masks, wash their hands regularly, use a tissue to cover coughs and sneezes, practise good hygiene, avoid close contact with persons with flu like symptoms, and eat thoroughly cooked meat and eggs.

They have also been advised to avoid crowds, remain on campus and keep their throat moist as the virus can invade the body if the throat is dry.

The student, who has been in China for four months, said that the feelings among the student body varies.

She commented that she is “doing okay and keeping safe.”

“Some students are not panicking; they are adhering to the precautions while desiring for the outbreak to cease, others desire to leave but are aware of the travel restrictions and scrutiny attached to persons travelling from China and there are others who are really, really not sure anymore,” she intimated.

According to news reports from LoopJamiaca, the UWI issued a statement on Wednesday, January 29, confirming that there are 36 students enrolled in a BSc Software Engineering programme at UWI-China Institute of Information Technology (UWICIIT), and there are administrative staff present as well.

Currently in Suzhou, there are 28 students and one administrator.

The statement assures that the University has been working closely with GIST, where the UWICIIT is located, as well as local authorities, to ensure the well being of their students.

Support is also being sought from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the CARICOM Secretariat, Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs, and others involved in the regional management and response strategy.