Stalemate in Wuhan

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Peter, a 25-year-old Nigerian student, has not left his apartment in Wuhan for more than a week for fear of getting nCoV.

Peter wished the Nigerian government would take him and about 50 students and businessmen to leave Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in China, but as time passed, communications from the Nigerian embassy in Beijing stopped. , Peter ‘s hope faded away.

“We expect mental and financial support, although we cannot evacuate, but we have not received any assistance,” Peter said on February 13.

A nurse is waiting for a ride back to work in a hospital in Wuhan on January 25. Photo: AFP

Peter was given a medical mask by the school where he studied, but he was feeling more worried about his compatriots and their family, as financial pressure and psychological stress were increasing day by day.

About three weeks have passed since the time when Wuhan was imposed a blockade and travel restrictions to curb the spread of nCoV, leaving millions of residents not allowed to leave the city. The 15,000 foreigners currently living in Wuhan are also forced to stay here if their government cannot arrange to take them home by special flights.

Kazakhstan sent a plane to Wuhan to pick up its citizens and planned two more flights this week. Canada also plans to add aircraft. Over the weekend, Singapore and the United Kingdom organized a second flight to take citizens away from Wuhan, while the United States had a third flight.

Uzbekistan, New Zealand, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Thailand, Vietnam have flown the plane to pick up citizens in Wuhan from last week. South Korea, Japan, Australia, India, Russia, France, Germany and several other European countries evacuated citizens from a week earlier.

To date, the only foreigner who died in 1,036 deaths from the disease in Wuhan was a 60-year-old American woman. She died last week.

India sent 647 citizens, but 70 chose to stay and 10 didn’t get on the plane because they didn’t pass the body temperature test at the airport.

Satya is one of them. Last week, she posted a video on social networks saying her body temperature was higher than normal but there were no symptoms of a viral infection. She and another Indian could not board the flight and were under medical supervision, waiting for further notice.

However, not all countries can or are willing to repatriate citizens in Wuhan.

Pakistan, a close ally of China, informed its 800 students in Wuhan that they needed to remain calm while the authorities could not bring them home. Chinese ambassador Naghmana Hashmi said medical facilities in Pakistan could not afford to treat nCoV.

Mir Hassan, a Pakistani researcher at the Wuhan National Optoelectronic Laboratory, accused Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government of “unconscionable”. His father passed away in his home town on February 7, but Hassan could not return because he was trapped in China.

“Evacuate me with others. I have just lost my father,” Hassan wrote on Twitter after Health Minister Zafar Mirza said he spoke with Pakistani students in Hubei and reassured them that the Chinese government Quoc will take care of them. “My family needs me, my mother needs me. Please don’t mess with us.”

Pakistani researcher Mir Hassan, currently working at Wuhan National Optoelectronic Laboratory. Photo: Reuters

The Hassan family and those who sympathized with him began the campaign, calling on the Pakistani government to organize flights to bring citizens from Wuhan home. Similar groups have formed in Africa.

A group of Senegalese families has asked the government to send the plane to bring their relatives back home, but President Macky Sall said Senegal could not keep up with “major countries” in organizing emergency evacuations.

More than 250 Tanzanians in Wuhan have been informed by the government that they have no plans to evacuate citizens. Five Ugandan students sent a letter to parliament calling for help, saying they were short of basic supplies, including food and medical masks. On February 11, the Ugandan government announced it was “considering” a plan to evacuate its citizens.

Peter said he hasn’t returned to Nigeria since he started studying abroad in China, because transportation costs are so expensive, but now, he feels homesick.

“My family is extremely worried, sure, but I try to reassure them,” he said.

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