Bajan students studying in Wuhan ‘safe in their college dorms’

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(Barbados Today) – Three Barbadian students in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where a new strain of coronavirus has triggered a lockdown of the city and sparked a global fight back, are reported to be safe from the illness.

“I can tell you that I’m in regular contact with our students in Wuhan and they’re fine so far,” Ambassador to China Francois Jackman told Barbados TODAY from the Barbados embassy in Beijing.

“Rattled but healthy,” he added.

Ambassador Jackman said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been fully briefed on the students, two males and one female, who are currently holed up in their college dormitory rooms. He declined to identify them.

He stressed that keeping students safe was his priority while not ruling out the notion that they may eventually have to be evacuated.

Ambassador Jackman said: “I wouldn’t say that we are working to evacuate [them]. I would say we’re working to ensure their safety. This may include evacuation.”

The diplomat said the Chinese foreign ministry continued to brief the international diplomatic corps as foreign governments jostled to remove their nationals from Wuhan.

But China has since tightened travel restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

When Barbados TODAY contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bridgetown, officials were today locked in meetings but in a statement issued this evening via the Government Information Service, the ministry said it has been monitoring the situation regarding the coronavirus outbreak centring on the city of Wuhan in China.

“The Barbados Embassy in Beijing has been in contact with the Barbadian community in China and in particular those students who are in Wuhan.

“All of the students in Wuhan who are registered with the Embassy have been contacted directly and have reported that.they are in good health and they are following the instructions issued by the university authorities.

“The students report that they have been staying indoors and leaving only to source supplies. They are in contact with each other, the Embassy and the Barbadian community in China through messaging apps and social media.”

The ministry assured that it would continue to monitor the situation closely in coordination with the authorities China in order that the safety of the Barbadian community in China is ensured.

Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic told Barbados TODAY while he led a tour of the Infectious Disease Facility at Enmore on Martindales Road that Government was also concerned about Barbadians there and Chinese who have to conduct business here.

He said: “This is also a concern for us in relation to persons returning to Barbados.

“These aren’t just students, but persons going on seminars and other business including cultural, medical or sports and we also have Chinese who are coming here to work with China State Corporation and so on.

“So we have factored that in and the protocols outlined by [Chief Medical Officer] Dr [Kenneth] George certainly apply there.

“I have also been in contact with the resident Chinese Ambassador for the embassy and we are working together to see how best we can assist each other.

Since the outbreak in China, countries around the world have been scrambling to contain the spread of the coronavirus that has infected more than 2,700.

Beijing today reported its first coronavirus death as China’s overall death toll passed the 100 mark. Sri Lanka and Cambodia confirmed their case, even as Canada reported its second “presumptive case” and the United States its fifth. So far, no one outside China has died.

In a statement issued today, the Ministry of Health advised members of the public to avoid non-essential travel to Hubei province in central China, including its capital, Wuhan.

This is in keeping with a recommendation issued today by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, is aimed at reducing the international spread of the coronavirus.

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