By Adhere Cavince
As an international student in China, I was always captivated by the level of development the country had realized. The city of Wuhan, which will be my home for the next three years, displayed some special splendor, order and opulence. I always looked for opportunities to travel to different scenic points of the city, mostly on weekends as weekdays were consumed by studies.
It was for this reason that many of the international students, like me, looked forward to the January/February semester break. We would then have the time to travel, and relish Wuhan and other cities of China. This dream was however cut short when the authorities announced the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Wuhan.
What started with a few infections has since blossomed into a dreaded epidemic, infecting thousands and spreading beyond China, to other countries including United States, Japan, Thailand, South Korea and India. The obtaining conditions have fomented fear, panic and even despair among the residents of the city.
In order to contain the spread of the virus, the government announced a curfew, bringing the city into a lockdown. No trains, planes, vehicles and water vessels are allowed to either leave or enter the city; except in special circumstances. Such developments only made the situation more unpalatable, especially among foreign nationals in the city.
One would imagine the lockdown taking a toll on the city, leading to chaos. Many international students, for instance, wondered how life would be under the restricted movements. With the shops closed, we asked how we were going to replenish our food supplies, drinking water and other consumables.
In the days that followed, however, the administration of the Central China Normal University demonstrated a high degree of responsiveness that put both safety and wellbeing of the international students forefront.
The students were immediately provided with hand soaps, surgical masks and thermometers. The school hospital was equally activated to respond to any medical concerns. Information on how to cushion the students from the spread of the coronavirus was also circulated and displayed in strategic public spaces. The university also ensured the canteens and eateries on campus were functional, lessening the worry of students.
Beyond the university precincts, both national and regional governments were racing to contain the Coronavirus epidemic; regularly updating the public on the progress made. It was heartening to see the World Health Organization and other leading regional organizations endorse the pragmatic measures taken by China to manage the outbreak.
From the highest political office, the Chinese people have demonstrated that with synergy and knowledge-driven action, Coronavirus can be defeated. Some of the impressive outcomes include revolutionary scientific investigation into the virus’ genome; faster diagnostic tests turnaround; and vaccine development.
The establishment of additional model hospitals and increased production of medical supplies, are further pointers that the Chinese government has put the lives of citizens at the core of policy decisions.
These actions have made the international community in Wuhan feels a sense of ease despite the high tides currently sweeping through the city. The cooperation of various embassies and the foreign affairs office in Wuhan and different universities has equally palliated the anxiety among international students.
Although additional infections are reported each day, the number of patients who have surmounted the scourge and discharged from hospital is also increasing. One of the most inspiring stories is that of a nurse who resumed her duties after recovering from coronavirus.
She edifies the unstoppable resolve by the Chinese people to defeat the virus.
As China intensifies efforts to contain the virus, the international community must all work in unison to rid the universe of the scourge. There is no reason why more lives should be lost, considering the intellectual, scientific, financial and leadership capital on earth today.
Coronavirus is not a Chinese affair; much like Ebola was never an African affair. Viruses don’t need passports to cross borders. Viruses have no religion, race or tribe. They only do one thing: attacking the human system.
While Wuhan remains on lockdown; we must all continue to take precautionary measures and deny Coronavirus opportunity to spread. Thousands of international students remain in Wuhan; waiting on science to finally lift the lid on the epidemic and restore normalcy.
In the meantime, many are encouraged by the resilience, generosity and industry of the Chinese people.
Once again, the dust will settle. We will resume our vibrant, multicultural and fulfilling academic life that Wuhan has afforded so many of us.
I look forward to visiting the Optics Valley and standing over the majestic Yangtze River Bridge as we welcome a new phase of Wuhan’s history. Jia you Wuhan!
The writer is a PhD student of International Relations at Central China Normal University as well as Belt and Road Tourism Ambassador.
WeChat: Cavinceworld. Twitter: @Cavinceworld.