Captain Madhavi is a resident of Badulla and having received a scholarship from the Chinese Government, she entered the Huazhong University of Science and Technology one year and four months ago and is reading for her PHD in chemical science. Due to the Coronavirus outbreak she is trapped in Wuhan.
“There are 11 Sri Lankans at my university. I obtained temporary leave and came here to do my PHD. Although I was scheduled to come to Sri Lanka in January, our professor asked us not to go on vacation as we had a lot of work to do. Here the shops are closed due to the Chinese New Year and I stocked food and supplies for two weeks. Then on the 21stthey notified that everything was being closed in Wuhan due to the virus, including the metro and airport.
I am residing within the campus. Some of my batch mates are living with families outside the campus. We have been keeping in close contact with other Sri Lankan students and when they announced that there was a lockdown in Wuhan we really panicked. However, we made up our minds and the 33 of us Sri Lankans made a We Chat group to keep in touch.
I cook in my room as I am a vegetarian, so I have nothing to worry. The others outside must go out to get their food. However, going out is a risk. Those living outside said that they needed water and the Sri Lankan Embassy had made arrangements with the Chinese officials to give them what they require.
We have been adviced to do medical tests daily and how to act in case we develop fever. We were not warned earlier and as we were not aware around 16 of us went to the market as well as in the metro. We were not wearing masks and we even went to East Lake and that day there was less crowd there than usual.
This virus has been spreading since December and when we asked the Chinese here they said it was Sars virus. Hence, we were not scared and did not wear masks when traveling. All of a sudden the Coronavirus was announced on the 21st. However, the Chinese were aware of it. In fact, a professor had asked a friend on campus why he was not going for the vacation and told him better to go home as there was this dangerous virus spreading.
However, since it was not officially announced we did not take much notice. Moreover, as the air tickets are costly during this period no one wanted to travel. The only issue is that we cannot get out. Some have children who are a few months old. We saw on social media where people had posted comments saying not to bring us back home. We are really saddened by this. The Chinese people are very compassionate and had this happened to one of their people, they would never have posted such cruel statements on social media. We don’t need to infect our countrymen and the authorities can keep us under quarantine to ensure we are not carrying the virus. The embassies of other countries, just like the Sri Lankan Embassy, are trying to save their students who are trapped here,” Captain Madhavi said.