A Chinese exchange student stuck in Liverpool has said she is planning to jet back to homeland as she feels safer there in the wake of the UK government’s handling of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Ms Zhang, who did not wish to give her full name, is now cooped up in her residence in the North West waiting to fly back to mainland China at the end of the month.
Students like her are reportedly “fleeing” in droves due to concerns over the UK’s handling of the outbreak, and because of an apparent increase in racial hostilities towards those of East or Southeast Asian extraction.
But returning to China comes with its own problems, as many online have criticised expats and students for “bringing home” the virus to areas where the number of daily confirmed cases have steadily fallen as the country gets to grips with the outbreak.
In a telephone interview given to Chinese media, Ms Zhang suggested she would feel much safer in China than she currently does in England.
She said: “I don’t go out if I don’t have to, unless I run out of food and need to go out for supplies.
“I was supposed to graduate in June and return to China, but all classes have stopped, including at our university.
“It’s as if we’ve all graduated early.
“I went to a Chinese supermarket the other day. I discovered Brits don’t really wear surgical masks.
“Basically, no one was wearing a mask.
“The Chinese all wear masks. I think the Chinese take better precautions.
“Before classes were suspended here, my family didn’t want me to fly back to China. They were concerned about my studies being delayed.
“But now classes have stopped, they feel it’s best that I go home if I can.
“I booked a ticket for quite late – 31st March. I’ve bought goggles, masks and gloves online.
“We understand the thinking of those back home, but we hope those in China understand the difficulties we’re facing.
“I heard there was a Chinese exchange student who had symptoms and went to a hospital.
“They didn’t do much. They prescribed him some medication and sent him home to self-isolate.
“I’m afraid I’ll experience something similar. I would feel safer in China.
“But it’s a lot of stress to go home. I’ve read comments saying exchange students should not be returning to China at a time like this.
“But I will self-quarantine when I get back.”
Some sections of the public in China have welcomed the idea of Chinese citizens returning home amid a surge in Europe and the United States – as long as they strictly follow the country’s quarantine laws, which require them to self-isolate for at least 14 days upon return.
On Weibo – often dubbed Chinese Twitter – the hashtag ‘British exchange students decide to go home, hope for understanding upon return’ has been viewed 190 million times at the time of writing.
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