The chairman of NUI Galway’s Chinese Scholars and Students Association (CSSA) has said the Coronavirus is very unlikely to be spread on campus.
Jizhong Meng said that the risk of the virus being spread by returning students is very low given the small number of students returning from China.
The CSSA is a non-government organization that aims to help students and scholars and organize activities to promote communication among Chinese students and scholars.
According to statistics, around 10 people are planning to return to Galway from China. But Mr Meng said that he did not know about their flights, so it was “unclear if they would return on time”.
As The World Health Organization recently declared the Coronavirus as a global health emergency, China has imposed several transport restrictions, with the state of Hubei being placed into lockdown.
Mr Meng said: “According to the Irish Ministry, you can enter Ireland if you have not been to Wuhan or Hubei. So if NUIG students have already bought the tickets, I think they can come back”.
“There are still a few people who live in Wuhan who don’t know when it will be safe to return to the university.”
This week, four Chinese students came to Ireland to take English preparatory courses. Mr Meng said they are currently living in B&Bs.
He explained: “It is difficult to find accommodation for students who have recently arrived from China, because neither the university nor our association has available housing”.
“I went to International Office this Wednesday and reflected some problems of the Chinese students, such as the coronavirus causing some students not able to return to their colleges, what measures should be taken when they come back. But they said that they should have a meeting before any action can be taken.”
Mr Meng said that many of the students remain uncertain as to when they will be able to return to continue their studies.
“So far [The International Office] has not given me any specific instructions. I suppose maybe they think this is not a big problem because their ministry has issued documents saying that mandatory measures cannot be taken at present.”
“I contacted these students, and asked them to leave their house as little as possible and wash their hands frequently.”
Regarding how CSSA is dealing with the problem, Mr Meng said:
“The CSSA is a non-administrative department and a non-profit organization, so we can only try to count the number of people returning to the university and then hand it in the relevant departments. We can also give students some information and suggestions in time.”
Mr Meng also said: “At present, there are about 100 Chinese students studying at NUI Galway. Because it was Chinese New Year recently and the new semester has begun, both undergraduate and postgraduate students have already started their studies. The majority of students who will be returning to Ireland are doctoral students and scholars and these make up a small proportion of the Chinese students in the college. So the risk of bringing in the new Coronavirus is still small.”