Namibian students in China still in lockdown

07 August 2020 | Local News

STAFF REPORTER

BEIJING



Namibian and other international students in China are baffled about being kept in strict lockdown although restrictions have been relaxed in most parts of China.

While most foreign students have returned to their home countries, those left in China's empty universities are confined to campus. Some of Beijing's international students claim they have not been allowed to leave campuses unless accompanied by a Chinese staff member since the end of January and are not being given any updates about when the situation will change.



Confined to campus

Most universities still provide masks and disinfect the residential areas every day, but students expressed anxiety about being stuck there, far from home.

“We submit our temperature three times a day to the school management,” said an international student, who asked to remain anonymous. Students question why they are confined while Chinese people living on campus are not subject to the same rules. “For an international student, going to a bank or to the hospital is also difficult; it takes three weeks before your application to go outside is approved and when going to the hospital you can only go with a Chinese person. I don't understand the logic in that,” one student said.They must order food and other necessities online to be delivered to them at the school gates.



Repatriation

Returning home is not easy, as countries have closed borders and restricted travel due to the coronavirus crisis. Many flights to and from China have been cancelled as Beijing tries to keep infected travellers from reigniting the contagion there. For countries doing repatriations, seats are expensive and limited. Most of the students who remain are those who cannot afford to pay for the expensive flights. The Namibian embassy has advised students to either take a repatriation flight via Frankfurt scheduled for this week (N$59 102 from China), or to wait for other flights to Africa, which might be more affordable.

Some of the remaining students have signed up for another repatriation flight from Beijing to Johannesburg on 23 August.

Preparations for this flight are still under way and bookings are being made with We Fly Africa.

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