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April 5, 2020

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China takes flight to help plight of stranded students

There are now about 1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in more than 200 countries and regions. More than 46,700 people have died from the disease.

According to China’s Ministry of Education, there are 1.6 million Chinese studying overseas, of whom 1.4 million remain abroad., and Shanghai Daily have compiled a guide for those students who so far cannot come home, which may help them get through the pandemic.

Personal Protection

Q: Many people abroad aren’t wearing masks, what should I do?

A: Whether or not to wear a mask depends on habits and the perceived protective efficiency in different countries. In the United States, masks are used mainly to prevent sick people’s saliva from splashing onto others’ faces. Besides, many countries are facing a lack of protective gear, so masks are being prioritized for medical care providers.

Q: Foreign countries are severely hit by novel coronavirus, should I hoard some medicine?

A: It is not recommended that you hoard a large amount of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, whose efficacy needs to be verified by further clinical trials. The best “medicine” is to drink more water and milk, eat more eggs, sleep more and not go out socializing.

Q: If I get no symptoms during the 14-day quarantine period, does it mean that I am virus-free?

A: At present, it is uncertain whether there is an “ultra-long incubation period.” Even if there is, it is not a common phenomenon. According to the current situation, the 14-day incubation view can remain. But at the same time, fever is not the only symptom to indicate infection. For isolated people, if having any physical discomfort such as cough and fever, they should report their symptoms in the country or region they live.

Q: If I choose to stay abroad and not return to China, what should I pay attention to in my daily life?

A: Stay at home to avoid unnecessary exposure. Take care when going out to buy daily necessities by wearing a mask. Wash your hands after any contact in public areas. Eat more vegetables and fruit when staying at home and take an appropriate dose of tranquilizers when experiencing sleep problems.

Q: My school has reported confirmed cases. But, unlike in China, there are no apps to find out if I have had close contact with infected people. What should I do?

A: Conduct self quarantine and live a normal life with enough sleep and nutrition. Consult a doctor if you have a fever.

Q: If I have symptoms like a cough and fever, how can I judge whether or not I have contracted the coronavirus? Should I go to hospital at once?

A: Influenza and novel coronavirus may both cause a cough and fever, making it difficult for ordinary people to distinguish the two. Of the people infected with coronavirus, 80 percent have mild symptoms and can survive it without seeking medical assistance. Whether to seek medical assistance mainly depends on your breathing. If you find it difficult to breathe, or hard to breathe when going upstairs, seek medical assistance. Fever is not necessarily the decisive point of seeking medical assistance, breathing is.

Q: Is there a danger when opening windows for ventilation?

A: Ventilation is very important. The concentration of virus in the air is quite low, so there is no need to fear that the virus may come in through opened windows. The virus will gradually diminish or lose vitality once it becomes dried after exposure in the air. Besides, the air flows fast. If a patient emits a breath, the exhaled air is dispersed quickly and the concentration of the virus becomes low. So it is important to keep indoor ventilation or mechanical ventilation and purifier ventilation to ensure oxygen levels stay high.

Assistance in Life

Q: I am not able to buy face masks abroad and would like to ask my parents to send some masks from Shanghai. Which courier service provider can deliver the masks to me? How long will it take to deliver the masks?

A: SF Express can deliver the masks. However, anti-epidemic supplies including masks can only be exported when customs declaration requirements are met. Currently, it takes a longer time to deliver masks overseas. You can follow the WeChat account of SF Express and click “Me”—“Service queries”—“Shipping costs and transit time.” EMS and DHL can also deliver masks overseas. Please dial the hotline number 11185 and press 6 for more information.

Q: What is the safest way to deal with express deliveries and letters, as they may carry viruses?

A: Actually there is no need for special treatment. However, if you are still worried, you can spray them with alcohol sanitizer, or put them in an oven for an hour at 60 degrees Celsius.

Q: I heard that the Chinese embassy is providing Chinese students with health packs. How can I get one?

A: The Chinese embassies and consulates in the UK, France, Italy and the US are coordinating efforts and resources to provide Chinese students studying there with health packs containing necessary protection supplies and an anti-epidemic guide.

In the UK, for example, the Chinese embassy is providing Chinese students studying there with health packs containing an anti-epidemic guide. The health packs will be sent to you through the National Union of Students and the Union of Students of various schools. Please pay attention to the relevant notice of those student unions. If you meet any difficulties, please call (44-20) 7436 8294 or (44-20) 7299 8435 to contact the Chinese embassy.

Q: How can Chinese students studying in the UK protect themselves when encountering hostile people?

A: First, overseas students should strengthen their self-protection and try to avoid suspicious-looking people when walking on the street. If there is a quarrel, try to protect yourself and dodge physical conflict. Second, if attacked or abused, you should report to the school instantly and then report to the police. Third, make sure to inform the Chinese embassies and consulates in the UK in a timely manner. We will waste no time negotiating with school authorities and the British police, urging them to strengthen protection.

Overseas Study

Q: I am an exchange student in a university in the US. As classes in the US have been suspended and exams have been canceled, how do I convert my academic credits? Can I return to study in my home university in China after school starts?

A: Classes are now suspended in US universities, but they are still offering distance learning and relevant assessment methods have also been published. So you can still gain your credits when the semester ends. Regarding whether you can come back to continue your studies, you have to consult your home university in China.

Q: I am a US university exchange student in Japan. Now my Japanese university requires me to return to the American university, but classes in US universities have been suspended. What should I do?

A: As an exchange student, your academic status belongs to the US university. Contact your home university right away once you are told to leave by the country you are visiting. For the time being, most US universities have not actually “suspended” their classes, because they are offering online education. The home university should not refuse the requests of its exchange students. If you have missed too many classes in the Japanese university to meet the required academic hours, you might have to retake the courses in the next semester.

Q: I went to study in Australia this February. Should I apply to drop out? Will it affect my future application for admission to other schools?

A: Dropping out is not recommended. You can complete your studies through online learning and other methods, in accordance with your school’s regulations. While ensuring epidemic prevention and studying online, you can wait for classes to return to normal. If you decide to drop out, do clarify the reason for doing so when you apply for another school, and there should be no significant impact.

Affairs about Returning to China

Q: I’m studying in a British school, which is now closed. But if I return to China at present, I may not be able to obtain a visa to return to the UK to complete my studies. Can the embassy offer some help?

A: It is recommended that students stay in the UK. The embassy will coordinate the allocation of anti-epidemic materials and hand out health packs. As for your studies, it is recommended that you communicate with the school. For students who have returned to China, if they come across related problems they can reach out to the embassy for necessary information and help.

Q: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues overseas, should returning to China immediately be my first choice?

A: Long-haul flights incur infection risk. Due to the epidemic, journeys back home are usually longer than usual. Afraid of getting infected, some people may choose to refrain from eating or drinking during their entire flight. This, coupled with fatigue and worry over the virus, may further lower immunity and then increase the risk of infection.

Q: I am currently in London and plan to head back to Shanghai soon. What preparations should I make?

A: Once you’ve made the decision to come back, direct flights should be your first option if possible. If you have to take a connecting flight, be sure to check the latest information regarding relevant airports, visa requirements, epidemic prevention regulations and so on in advance. Also, make sure to follow the filing procedures required by your school, keep close contact with the school or institution where you do internship, and properly arrange study and visa-related issues. You must also abide by the relevant epidemic prevention regulations in China once you arrive back.

Q: Is it possible for China to arrange temporary flights or chartered flights to bring back overseas students?

A: Based on real demand, the Civil Aviation Administration of China will activate air travel mechanism for overseas Chinese citizens, including the arrangement of temporary flights or chartered flights, to bring them back to cities with mass demand and the ability to receive flights.

Q: On the way home by airplane, what should I do to remain relatively safe?

A: The cabin is a closed space and of high risk for virus infection. It’s necessary to ensure that a mask is worn for a long period. It is not necessary to wear protective clothing and goggles if no confirmed patients are in close contact. The riskiest infection scenario is the boarding process, and remember to wash your hands frequently.

Psychological Counseling

Q: I am studying in Italy and I dare not go out every day. I'm panicked and can't sleep well at night. What should I do?

A: First, we must accept and consider the situation rationally. It is normal for people to feel anxious under the influence of an epidemic. Second, we must create a safe and comfortable environment to stay at home and avoid going out. Once again, we must arrange our daily lives reasonably. Keep a regular schedule, learn some knowledge about the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, and do proper housework and home exercise. Last but not least, seeking emotional support is also a good idea. You can make video calls with relatives and friends in China to relieve bad feelings.

Q: I don’t plan to return home right now, but my parents are extremely worried. Every time we do a video chat, I can see my mother weeping. How can I comfort my parents and reduce their worries?

A: People’s tensions and anxiety come from the feeling of losing control over something. Thus the best way to make your parents “less worried” is to let them know more about the “truth.” For example, you can explain to them patiently why you choose not to return. The reasons must be well considered and you should try to tell them in a way that takes their perspective into account. You can also show them the condition of virus control and prevention overseas.


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