Take us home, plead Vietnamese students in China

By Nhan Tran    February 1, 2020 | 05:27 pm PT
Take us home, plead Vietnamese students in China
Nguyen Van Phi (L) and his wife wear face masks and stay indoors all day as Wuhan is locked down amid the new coronavirus outbreak. Photo by Nguyen Van Phi.
Vietnamese students are asking their country to follow suit as many foreigners are evacuated from Wuhan, the epicenter of deadly new coronavirus outbreak.

Nguyen Van Phi, 27, a student of the Wuhan University, is besides himself with anxiety.

His wife is eight months pregnant and they are trapped in Wuhan City of Hubei Province, which has been locked down for the past two weeks after the new coronavirus epidemic broke out from there.

Phi said this year he and his wife decided not to return to Vietnam for Tet, or Lunar New Year, because the holiday was too short, he had an overloaded study schedule and his wife was about to give birth.

However, with no immediate sign of the coronavirus epidemic under control anytime soon and the WHO declaring it a global emergency, his anxiety has peaked.

The Chinese city of 11 million people has turned into a ghost town as it is cut off from the outside world.

"I'm very worried because my wife is about to give birth, but all hospitals in Wuhan are overburdened and flooded with people suspected of being infected with new coronavirus," Phi said.

"When healthy people themselves are at high risk of infection, pregnant women are far more vulnerable. If my wife has to deliver our baby here, I don't know what can happen," said Phi, expressing his ardent wish that the Vietnamese embassy in China and the Vietnamese government take urgent measures to evacuate them.

The U.S., the U.K., Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and European countries have begun implementing their evacuation plans after cooperating with local authorities to complete repatriation procedures.

Phi is one of many Vietnamese students stuck in Wuhan who want the Vietnamese government to evacuate them.

Pham The Cuong, 33, a student with the Huazhong Agricultural University, said some foreign students in his school have been evacuated from Wuhan, leaving behind a few Pakistani students and him in their dormitories.

"Health workers have come to my dormitory to spray disinfectant continuously. I am worried and living in fear. Every day, I receive hundreds of phone calls and messages from my family. I wish I could go home, too," he said.

According to the latest report from the Vietnamese Embassy in China, there are 207 Vietnamese students staying with their families in China to celebrate Tet. Besides Wuhan, many Vietnamese students living in other provinces of China also wish to return to Vietnam.

The embassy has been updating the number of people wishing to fly home so that supportive measures can be taken.

Vietnamese students in Wuhan have nothing to do but wait, stressed out.

Most shops and restaurants in Wuhan are closed and nearly all private cars have been banned. All flights to and from Wuhan have been canceled and the trains have stopped operating.

Public transportation across the city has been temporarily suspended, forcing residents to stay indoors and follow the latest government guidelines.

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