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April 16, 2020

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Students overseas honor medical workers

Overseas Chinese students in Canada are paying respect to medical workers in China amid the novel coronavirus pandemic through short videos, paintings and poems.

After returning to Shanghai from Canada and finishing her 14-day quarantine at a local hotel, Xu Wenxin, a senior from the University of Toronto, could not help expressing her gratitude and respect.

The city’s strict prevention measures, quarantine management and COVID-19 testing made her feel relieved after an anxious 20-hour journey.

“It makes a sharp contrast with the few prevention measures abroad and many negative news reports about China’s epidemic situation,” said Xu.

“I was shocked and moved after returning home.”

After finishing quarantine in early April, the 23-year-old senior in physics and mathematics created a digital painting of a doctor wearing protective gear, representing Chinese medical workers who have been fighting against COVID-19 since January.

She posted the painting on her social media account and wrote: “Thanks to all those who risk their own safety to save others’ lives.”

She also wrote a poem to go with the painting.

One line reads: “You stand in front of the evil of disease with the light of hope behind you and shout to the city that ‘no life shall be abandoned casually.’”

The painting and poem were made also for her mother Qiang Weimin, a disease prevention and control official with the Yangpu District Health Commission, who has been working continuously since the beginning of the outbreak.

Even after Xu returned home, she could hardly meet her mother.Qiang made a meal to welcome her daughter but soon returned to the city’s COVID-19 prevention campaign.

The posts on Xu’s WeChat account struck a chord among her friends and schoolmates, many of whom remain in Toronto. They also hoped to share their best wishes and gratitude to China.

Initiated by Xu, about 10 Chinese students in Toronto worked together to make a video.

They thanked the prompt help from the Chinese embassy, shared their quarantine life in Canada and paid respect to the Chinese doctors and nurses.

The video was finished within a day and has been widely circulated among overseas Chinese students.

“I’d like to thank the doctors, nurses, police officials and volunteers who helped China get through the epidemic,” a sophomore from the university said in the video.

Another Chinese student said since there had been over 20,000 infections in Canada, they had to self-quarantine at home for three weeks.

“I am jealous of my classmates in China who have been able to go out mainly thanks to the contributions of the medical workers,” the student said.

Another sophomore from the university said the Chinese embassy sent a health package to each of the Chinese students to get protection supplies to them in time.

Embassy care packs

The health packs for Chinese students in Canada included several KN95 masks along with a dozen disposable masks, disinfection napkins, a box of Lianhua Qingwen traditional Chinese medicine capsules and a handbook of prevention knowledge about COVID-19.

Many pedestrians were not wearing masks in Canada before Xu returned home amid the pandemic but she and other Chinese students boarded the aircraft back home wearing masks, goggles and hazmat suits.

Although the students are busy preparing their exams, most of them made quick responses to Xu’s proposal and sent her the video they recorded at home or in their dormitories.

“We overseas students witness the development of the global pandemic, so we can better feel the effectiveness of the prevention and control measures of the Chinese government,” Xu said.

She decided to fly back in mid-March when she felt uncomfortable due to the tension and fear amid the growing number of infected cases in Canada.

“I was worried I might also be infected, but there was nowhere for me to be tested,” Xu said.

The Toronto government only released a guideline for residents to check whether they were infected by themselves.

She took a regional flight from Toronto to Vancouver and then boarded a China Eastern Airlines’ flight to Shanghai on March 27.

After landing at the Pudong airport, passengers were asked to get off the plane in batches. All crew members were wearing hazmat suits and masks in the city’s airport.

The customs officials asked the traveling history and other information in detail of each passenger.

They also checked the temperature of each passenger frequently.

Due to anxiety and fear, Xu’s temperature was 37.3 degrees Celsius at the beginning, a critical point for the screening of COVID-19.

The flight attendant asked her to calm down and came to check again. And then her temperature returned to normal.

“Everyone wore a hazmat suit at the airport which made me feel safe and reliable,” she recalled.

After a temperature check and quarantine inspections, she was taken to the gathering site for Yangpu District at the airport.

Officials there took her on a bus to the designated hotel near the Wujiaochang commercial hub.

Since March 28, all passengers from overseas arriving in Shanghai have been required to undergo a 14-day quarantine for medical observation at designated sites as part of the city’s COVID-19 prevention measures.

They are also required to undergo nucleic acid tests.

Pride in home country

“I felt safe and relaxed after checking in at the hotel,” Xu said. A district official later called to ask Xu to take the nucleic acid test and she got a negative result several hours later.

Xu said that the whole process after returning to Shanghai boosted her patriotism, especially on April 4 when she observed the three-minute silence at 10am to mourn martyrs in the epidemic fight and others who died during the outbreak.

“I stood in front of the window at the quarantine hotel to witness everyone on the street standing still and all vehicles sounding their horns,” she said.

“I was shocked again and felt the hearts of every Chinese are connected together at that moment,” she said.

She then determined to create the painting and poem as well as initiate the campaign to pay respect and gratitude.

“I’m always in awe and respect to doctors and nurses due to the career of my mum,” Xu said.

She remembered her mother often had to work overtime when she was young, especially during the SARS epidemic.

Her mother Qiang, a retired soldier, applied to join the fight against SARS in 2003 and asked to fight on the front line against the COVID-19 early this year.

At the beginning of the outbreak, Qiang led other officials to inspect six fever clinics and 12 community health centers in Yangpu to prepare for the possible epidemic.

“If I had the talent, I would definitely follow my mother to become a medical worker,” Xu said.

After graduation, she has decided to return to Shanghai to work or study for a postgraduate degree. “After experiencing the pandemic, I won’t change my mind to return home,” she said.


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