Coronavirus scare: Fear, uncertainty grip Rajasthan students stranded in China
Over 30 students mostly from Rajasthan in China’s Hunan province are anxious that their return to India may be delayed amid a coronavirus outbreak as their passports submitted to local authorities for visa renewal would only be returned by mid-February.
Hunan borders Hubei, where at least 10 cities have been shut down as part of a lockdown aimed at containing the lethal contagious disease that has killed over 130 people. The flu-like contagious disease originated from Hubei’s capital, Wuhan, and Indians living there and surrounding provinces are being evacuated on Thursday.
One of the students, Gaurav Bansal, 21, said they submitted their passports to the local police as their visas were expiring on January 30. “We deposited our passports for a visa extension. Police say we will get our passports by mid-February,” Bansal, who is from Rajasthan’s Alwar district, told HT over the phone from Hengyang city.
Bansal, a student at Hengyang’s University of South China, said they were confined to their university hostel and under lockdown. He said 80-90 cases of coronavirus and 3-4 deaths have been reported from Hengyang. “There is a group of 35 Indian students... who are all 3rd-year MBBS students. Four of us are from Rajasthan and five from Uttar Pradesh,” he said.
He added they were not allowed to go out. “We do not get food in the hostel and have to buy things from the market. But due to the Chinese New Year holidays and the coronavirus scare, the local markets are shut too.”
In Hengyang , the Lunar New Year holidays have been extended and markets will remain shut until February 2, said Bansal.
Gaurav Bansal’s father, Naveen Bansal, who owns a medical store in Gadhi Sawai Ram town, said they are worried about their children. “Other parents have also got in touch with me. We hope the Indian government will get our children back,” he said.
Another student, Durgesh Yadav, who is from Behror in Alwar, said the university administration was trying to get their passports in 3-4 days. “Hopefully, we will be able to return home then,” Yadav said and added the students are in regular touch with their families.
Separately, a suspected coronavirus case in Rajasthan has tested negative. The blood report of a student, who was suspected to have contracted the virus, was received on Wednesday and has tested negative, said Rohit Kumar Singh, additional chief secretary (health).
The suspected case was reported on Sunday and the student’s blood sample was sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune on Monday.
Singh said the protocol would be followed and a fresh blood sample would be taken from the patient after two days and would be sent again to the NIV.
At least 18 people from Rajasthan have returned from China and have been screened. None had any symptoms of the virus. But they will be monitored for 28 days as per the protocol, said Singh.