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Home / India News / Indian students from Wuhan could be unsuspecting vectors of China virus

Indian students from Wuhan could be unsuspecting vectors of China virus

More than 600 Indian students study in Wuhan and the majority of them have left the city in the past two weeks during the time when the previously unknown virus was silently spreading across the city.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2020 22:13 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
People walk past the closed Hankou Railway Station after the city was locked down following the outbreak of a new coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei province, China
People walk past the closed Hankou Railway Station after the city was locked down following the outbreak of a new coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei province, China (REUTERS)

There could be unsuspecting vectors among the hundreds of Indian students who have left Wuhan, at the core of the novel Coronavirus outbreak in China and abroad, and returned home for the Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays in the past two weeks.

More than 600 Indian students study in Wuhan and the majority of them have left the city in the past two weeks during the time when the previously unknown virus was silently spreading across the city.

More than 90 percent of the cases so far – 18 dead and nearly 700 infected – have been directly linked to Wuhan and a seafood and fish market in the city.

The Chinese government confirmed earlier this week that the virus could be transferred from one human to another, making it a seriously contagious one.

At least 15 medical workers including doctors have also been infected while treating patients.

There is no report of any Indian student – or for that matter any Indian – in China having caught the virus.

But the fear of an outbreak in India remains.

Experts have said that symptoms of the infection include high fever, difficulty in breathing and lung lesions.

Milder cases of the disease may resemble the flu or a bad cold, making detection very difficult.

The problem, however, is the incubation period.

The incubation period — defined as the time from exposure to the onset of the symptoms of the disease — is believed to be about two weeks, say doctors.

The question – Have they become unwitting vectors of an infection that could be transmitted from one human to another?

There is no information about the Indian students who have already left Wuhan with the Indian embassy or consulates here.

There are 23000 Indian students in China and many aren’t registered with the embassy or consulates; neither are they expected to inform them about their arrival and departure schedules.

The information – like their departure and arrival dates – would be available with Chinese and Indian immigration departments.

The Indian students studying in Wuhan come from across India though a large chunk is from southern Indian states.

Many of those who left did so in the past two weeks as the holidays for the Chinese New Year (CNY) and winter breaks set in at colleges and universities.

It could become a problem not only for India but also for other countries in south Asia.

Wuhan has one of the highest concentrations of foreign students in China – including from Pakistan and Bangladesh -- and many have travelled back home like they do any other year for the CNY.