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Coronavirus Outbreak and Its Impact on International Medical Students

Updated on February 21, 2020
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With over 70,548 confirmed cases and over 1,770 confirmed deaths globally, Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has become a global epidemic. It has affected people from over 28 countries, and more countries are added to the list every day. Besides its traumatic effect on human lives, the outbreak of coronavirus has largely impacted the studies of international students in China. With an estimated total of over 490,000 international students living and studying in China, they are some of the most overlooked victims of this global crisis.

Medical students make up around 15% of the international students studying in China. So far, most countries have evacuated their citizens out of China and have provided medical attention to students infected with Coronavirus to treat and prevent the spread of the deadly disease.

Academically, these students are in turmoil as the universities they’ve enrolled in have not given these students clear instructions on how to pursue their courses in the current situation. Many students have returned home without any idea of returning to China, and considering the current situation, which is only getting worse by the day returning, doesn’t seem a viable option.

With over 70,548 confirmed cases and over 1,770 confirmed deaths globally, Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has become a global epidemic. It has affected people from over 28 countries, and more countries are added to the list every day. Besides its traumatic effect on human lives, the outbreak of coronavirus has largely impacted the studies of international students in China. With an estimated total of over 490,000 international students living and studying in China, they are some of the most overlooked victims of this global crisis.

Medical students make up around 15% of the international students studying in China. So far, most countries have evacuated their citizens out of China and have provided medical attention to students infected with Coronavirus to treat and prevent the spread of the deadly disease.

Academically, these students are in turmoil as the universities they’ve enrolled in have not given these students clear instructions on how to pursue their courses in the current situation. Many students have returned home without any idea of returning to China, and considering the current situation, which is only getting worse by the day returning, doesn’t seem a viable option.

Although most students have been evacuating students studying in China, some have not been that fortunate. According to the news site, Aljazeera reports that students from Africa, specifically from Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, are stuck in the country and are requesting their government for evacuation and support. In their article, they interview students who are living in the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. The students describe the shortage of amenities, medicine, and mental stress that they go through every day.

However, students who have successfully returned are quarantined and put under strict medical observation. Those who show symptoms especially are treated and detained for an extended period. It causes derange not only their studies but also their life plans and, ultimately, their mental well-being.


Unable to return to their loved ones and to live with the constant fear of their health deteriorating may cause deeper psychological issues to the students. The coronavirus outbreak may be the most significant disruption to international student flows in history.

With no immediate results regarding the development of coronavirus vaccine and coronavirus infection spreading to newer countries every day, it is unlikely that this epidemic will be solved anytime soon. WHO has published safety tips to prevent the spread of the virus. As there is no vaccine for coronavirus to eradicate it completely, curbing its spread is the only option left for us to save the human lives.

At this point, a supportive, compassionate, and respectful response from the university communities is crucial at this stage. The students can only hope for this crisis to avert so that they can get their studies and, ultimately, their life on track.

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