FS monitors students in China

2020-02-12 06:00

With grave concerns rising over Coronavirus in China, the Free State Government has scaled up measures for accurate information on the health and safety of 147 students in China.

These students are studying at 14 universities in China through the provincial government scholarship.

According to reports, the Chinese health authorities confirmed there were 7 711 cases in that country as of 29 January this year. The death toll in the coronavirus stricken China has reached more than 1 000, after 108 people died from the virus on Monday (10/02). The death toll is reported to be the highest daily toll since the outbreak began late 2019.

Setjhaba Maphalla, acting spokesperson for the Free State Premier’s Office, said the provincial government has ensured accurate and up-to-date information on the status of the students is received through a 24-hour hotline.

“The Free State government continues to liaise with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco). Dirco has established a 24-hour hotline for South African citizens in Wuhan to contact the embassy in China. The provincial government receives feedback regarding the students’ conditions, whereabouts, advice of restrictions and cautions to take,” said Maphalla.

Among basic protective measures recommended is that people wear face masks to prevent infection with the virus.

According to media reports, in Wuhan, China, the center of the outbreak, face masks were made mandatory as from late January. As of 4 February, the number of coronavirus infections had surpassed 24 000 (with a vast majority of cases in mainland China), and 494 people have died.

Maphalla said the Free State government has in place key measures to ensure health and safety of the students in the wake the World Health Organisation declaring the coronavirus outbreak an international health emergency.

He said of the 147 students, 34 were expected to return to South Africa having graduated at the universities they were enrolled at. The number of new students enrolled is 113.

“However, the 34 graduates will remain in China due to the quarantine and travel restrictions of the province. They have yet to confirm their departure dates,” said Maphalla.

Students studying medicine are enrolled for seven years, while others are on four-year programmes.

The programmes range from Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering to Food Science, Urban and Rural Planning, Economics and Veterinary Medicine.

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