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'No masks, running out of food': Tamil Nadu medicos in China narrate nightmare

Speaking to Express, a handful of Tamil students at the University said the Chinese government had imposed a complete shutdown in Wuhan.

Published: 25th January 2020 05:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th January 2020 05:54 PM   |  A+A-

Employees work to prevent a new coronavirus as a screen warming about Wuhan coronavirus at Suseo Station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020.

Employees work to prevent a new coronavirus as a screen warming about Wuhan coronavirus at Suseo Station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

TIRUCHY: Students from Tamil Nadu pursuing medicine from the Wuhan University in China are too scared to leave their rooms. They have been staying indoors for the past two days, fearing the coronavirus.

Reports say close to 900 have contracted the virus, of whom at least 26 have succumbed. While most of the cases are being reported from Wuhan in Hubei Province, the World Health Organization is seized on the matter. In India, at least 10 incoming passengers have been put under observation.

Speaking to Express, a handful of Tamil students at the University said the Chinese government had imposed a complete shutdown in Wuhan, as a result of which food and mask prices have skyrocketed. The students said they were in dire need of food and basic amenities, and wanted to be moved out to another city till the outbreak is contained.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus outbreak - Death toll rises to 41, over 1,280 cases reported in China

“While some of them are staying in the University hostel, rest of us are in rented rooms with no help available,” said P Manishankar, a final year student from Pudukkottai.     

“I have not been able to get a protective mask owing to heavy demand,” said Manishankar. “All students are scared of leaving their rooms, as the threat looms large.” Manishankar said the Indian Embassy had called them and given the hotline numbers.

“But even getting out to buy masks could be risky as the virus spreads through human contact,” said the medical student.

“We have enough food to last us for 4-5 days. We don’t know what will happen after that. There is no news on how long the shutdown will last,” Manishankar added.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus outbreak - Malayali residents in Beijing take adequate precautions

He said that the first time he stepped out of his house to buy a mask, he found the medical shop closed. The next time he stepped out, the shop was extremely crowded.

“It was safer coming back to the room than risking contact with other a large number of people,” says Manishankar. Another final year student, Mrinalini from Coimbatore, also stays in a rented apartment. Though she managed to get a protective mask, she is still afraid.

“All the shops are closed. It’s not safe for us to step outside. Even hospitals and medical shops are out of protective gear. We first need basic supplies of food. All airports and railway stations are shut down. We are unable to step out to buy even basic items,” she said.    

ALSO READ: Coronavirus may be more infectious than SARS but is less virulent now: Dr K Srinath Reddy

While returning to India is not an option right now, the students want to be shifted to another city. “The problem is that the symptoms will show only after 7 days. If this virus reaches India, it might spread easily. Its already spread to so many cities in China,” the students said. However, students who are staying at the university hostel are less afraid because the campus is comparatively safer. They have been provided with masks.

Rahul, a medical student who hails from Erode, said, “We have all the basic needs. However, some students are in fear and want to go back to India. We hope normalcy will return in a week. Watching television news, my parents frequently keep calling me.”

Speaking to TNIE, Manishankar’s elder brother Arun from a village near Gandarvakkottai in Pudukkottai district, said, “We are really worried about the safety of my brother. Our parents often tell me to call him and offer moral support. He has less cash on his person and prices of essential commodities are high. We are expecting some support from our government.”

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