A staff member in Beijing checks the temperature of a passenger entering a subway station, as China is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, on January 28.(Reuters Photo)
A staff member in Beijing checks the temperature of a passenger entering a subway station, as China is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, on January 28.(Reuters Photo)

‘Running out of food and water’: Indian students’ desperate appeal to govt from coronavirus-hit Wuhan

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON SEP 04, 2020 10:10 PM IST

The deadly coronavirus has hit the world hard. And Wuhan, the Chinese city at ground zero of the outbreak, is cut-off from the world to contain the spread of the virus.

A group of Indian students in Wuhan have appealed to Indian government to make all possible efforts to rescue them at the earliest as they were running short of food and water in their dormitory due to the continued shutdown in the city.

“Due to the coronavirus outbreak in the city, we have been advised to stay indoors. Hence we are stuck in our dormitory (on the campus). We are being allowed to go out for only two hours a day to buy essentials but there is a lockdown in the city. All the shops and transport systems are closed. There is a shortage of essentials and we will soon run out of food and water,” an Indian student Gaurav Nath told news agency ANI on Tuesday.

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The 22-year-old is among the group of eight students who have pleaded the Indian government for help. He is pursuing Material Science and Engineering from the Wuhan University of Science and Technology.

“The Indian embassy in China is in constant touch with us for the rescue. We appeal to the Indian government to rescue us at the earliest,” Nath, who is from Assam, further told ANI.

The stranded students belong to Assam, Delhi, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir.

Apart from these students, a group of 58 Indians on a training programme in Wuhan have also appealed to the Indian government and to the Indian embassy in Beijing to evacuate them from Wuhan.

The group has been in Wuhan since August, 2019, to attend a training programme organised by a reputed Chinese electronics company based in Shenzhen in the province of Guangdong in China. One of the trainees from Andhra Pradesh told HT that they were supposed to return to India in the third week of February but now want to advance the departure because of the outbreak.

The 58 Indians comprising 47 men and 11 women have been stuck in their dormitory in the Hongshan district to Wuhan, which is at the epicentre of the novel Coronavirus outbreak.

“We have not been able to step out of our dorm since the lockdown of Wuhan last week. We are not allowed to go out,” said the trainee.

The trainee said that they have send their details to the Indian embassy in Beijing but yet to hear back.

The stranded group has read about the planned evacuation of Indians from Wuhan but aren’t aware of when or how it will be done.

“We want to leave,” the trainee told HT over phone from Wuhan.

Facing the unprecedented crisis, the residents of Wuhan have asked fellow residents to be strong. The residents are exchanging a message on popular app WeChat to do their collective bit to lift sagging spirits.

The message asked residents to open their windows sharp at 8 pm and shout “Wuhan, come on” to spread the spirit of cheer around the city. The message in Chinese asked residents to shout “Wuhan, Jia You” or “Wuhan, add oil” - a popular phrase in China used to encourage people, egg them on or to exhort them to stay strong. Thousands did.

Many then sang China’s National Anthem; some sang old patriotic songs.

Meanwhile, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday approved a special Air India flight to Wuhan for the evacuation of Indian citizens, ANI reported. An Air Indian Boeing 747 has been kept on standby for the evacuation.

“Our embassy is in contact with the Chinese government. We are trying to evacuate people, most of whom are students, from Wuhan city by sending a plane. Efforts are on. I can assure you that the central government is working on it and very soon, some solution will be found,” foreign minister S Jaishankar said.

At least 132 people have died of the rapidly spreading coronavirus in China, while nearly 6000 people have been infected so far, national health officials said on Wednesday morning.

The virus has also spread to some other countries including France, where three cases have been reported so far.

Many countries, including India, are screening travellers from certain parts of China for symptoms of the virus at airports.

Tens of millions of people are under a lockdown in several cities in the central Chinese province of Hubei including its capital, Wuhan, where the outbreak first began possibly in December, in a bid by authorities to contain the infection that has since spread to other cities and to other countries as well.

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