Dominicans studying in China, specifically those in Wuhan, say they are trapped and need to be evacuated.
Wuhan is where the deadly Coronavirus or COVID-19 originated and is also the home of about sixteen Dominican nationals. Current nine of the students and one employed person are in the city.
In an open letter to the public made available to Dominica News Online (DNO) by the Dominican
Students Council in China, the students made a desperate plea for the provision of basic necessities and discussions on their possible evacuation from the epicentre of the virus.
They emphasized how “emotionally and mentally harrowing it is for many” of them.
The students also criticized as untrue, statements made at a press conference by the Health Minister Dr. Colin McIntyre that “all of our students, we haven’t had anything negative coming from them as regards to their health… their main concern is when can they start back classes,”.
According to the students, the statement is not only a misrepresentation of the situation in Wuhan, but is also very hurtful to those who know that this does not speak truthfully of their conditions.
“There are students in Wuhan who are unsure of how they will be able to access basic supplies such as clean drinking water, grocery items, and disinfectants when their current supplies run out. The thought of not knowing where supplies will come from aggravates the psychophysiological injuries of many,” the letter states.
Furthermore, the students say such declarations preclude any discussion of possible intervention schemes from the powers that be.
“It is critical to clarify that while no Dominican student in China has been infected with the coronavirus, the mental health of some students in the epicenter is far from ideal. The virus has taken an obvious emotional and mental toll and a comprehensive health report should take this into consideration,” the students wrote.
Additionally, they say, after weeks of isolation, many are depressed, lonely and despondent.
Contrary to the article’s claim that the most pressing concern for students is when school recommences, the students explained in their letter, that universities have already set up online systems that have allowed most schools to run classes in the past couple of weeks.
However, many students are reportedly having a hard time dealing with academic responsibilities due to the psychological distress and the yearning for mental and emotional relief.
The students say they have relayed their circumstances “multiple times” to various Dominican offices and officials, including the Dominican Embassy to the People’s Republic of China, and ministries concerned with Education and Health.
“We are grateful for what effort was made in order to reach out to the students and the financial contribution made by the government of Dominica. We are very aware of the reality of the challenges involved in providing aid to the students in Wuhan, and so, our requests continue to be reasonable. Evacuation of students from Wuhan remains the best option,” they wrote.
The students are also recommending a joint effort among the CARICOM member states with citizens in Wuhan.
“Similar arrangements have been made by other countries who grouped together to get their citizens from Wuhan. There is strength in numbers, and cooperation of nations would secure a better chance of providing assistance to those trapped in Wuhan,” they wrote.
The students are further requesting frequent and open lines of communication, so that information can be reliably passed on, and to avoid misrepresentation of the reality on the ground.
The students also used their letter to commend the efforts of the Chinese government in tackling the Coronavirus.
In an effort to establish the authenticity of the letter, DNO contacted the Dominica Students Council in China. We were told that while the letter did come from the Students Council, they did not wish to disclose the identity of any individual involved and would prefer to be recognized as a body representing the interest of the students.”
More than 92,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide and the number of deaths from the virus has reached 3,110 globally.
DNO has tried unsuccessfully so far, to contact the minister responsible for health, Dr. Irving McIntyre, for comment on the letter. Our efforts will continue.