New Delhi: Indian students studying medicine at the Hainan Medical University at Haikou, the capital of Hainan province, may not have any option but to wait for the ordeal of coronavirus to end, as many of them are still stuck in the city due to non-availability of means of transportation out of China.
These students, who spoke to The Sunday Guardian, said that as on Saturday, they were waiting for intimation from the Indian government or the local embassy. The Sunday Guardian reached out to the MEA, but there was no response till the time of going to press.
According to them, around 150 Indian students were pursuing medicine from Hainan, but a large number of them were fortunate enough not to be in China when the epidemic broke, as the university was closed on account of spring breaks. However, at least 20-35 students were still in Hainan. Deependu Panja, a student of 2nd year, from Midnapore, West Bengal, told The Sunday Guardian that initially, they were told by the locals that there was no need to go and that the epidemic would be controlled soon. “It was only after the WHO announced the seriousness about the epidemic that we were told that the classes will not start before the last week of February. No tickets out of China are available now. Hong Kong is refusing transit visa and flights are being cancelled at the last minute. My father is trying hard to arrange a ticket for me,” he said.
The distance between Wuhan, the epicenter of epidemic, and Hainan, is close to 1,500 km. The first death, in Hainan due to the virus, of an 80-year-old woman, was reported on 27 January.
Altamas Ahmed, another medical student studying at Hainan medical university, who is from Bhagalpur, Bihar, said that he had been able to arrange an air ticket for 4 February. “We are doing whatever we can by coordinating with our parents back home. Some of our friends had reached out to the embassy; they were told that they can get in touch if they face any problems. As of now, we are confined inside our dormitory and eating packed food and self-cooked food. I am going to Malaysia, from there I will go to Kolkata or Delhi,” Ahmed said.
According to another student from Bihar, they were confined inside their rooms and were asked to move out into the public area in case of extreme emergency.
“We are wearing surgical masks as we read in the local newspapers that they were useful in stopping the transmission of the virus. On Saturday, the total number of death, as per local media was, more than 250,” the student said.