Some Arab students studying in areas of China infected with the deadly new coronavirus that has been declared a global health emergency are being evacuated by their governments, while others are stranded and expressing their distress.
Many of the students posted updates on social media about their plight, and some called on their governments to speed up efforts to return them to their home countries.
The number of Arab students in China exceeds 14,000, according to a study by a Chinese scholar in 2016, most of whom are pursuing master’s or Ph.D. degrees, according to the government scholarship system.
The new coronavirus first appeared in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in early December. It quickly spread during January to other regions of China and abroad.
As of early this week, there were more than 20,000 confirmed cases of the virus in China and at least 200 more in more than 20 other countries, CNN reported. The death toll stood at 425 in mainland China, with two deaths reported elsewhere—in Hong Kong and the Philippines.
As a result, the Chinese government has taken strict measures to prevent the virus from spreading further, including quarantining more than 50 million people in Wuhan and other major cities in its province, Hubei. Meanwhile, a number of countries around the world, including several Arab nations, have begun evacuating or making plans to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan and other parts of China shut down by the virus.
Difficult Conditions in Wuhan
The restrictions are making life difficult for Arab students trapped in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people about 650 miles south of Beijing.
“Unfortunately, the conditions here are very difficult,” said Mohamed Marghani, a Sudanese student pursuing a doctorate in physics at the Central China Normal University in Wuhan. “It is not allowed to leave the university neighborhood where students live. Even inside we cannot visit each other.”