Officials advise students in China to stay put

Every year, roughly 200 Indians enroll for medical college in Wuhan, one of 12 across China.

Hyderabad: Over 1,000 Indian students at the Wuhan College of Medicine must not return home but remain in China in case they are infected with the coronavirus. This suggestion came up in internal meetings of Indian health officers. Some students, however, are already in India for their winter holiday and Chinese New Year break, while others are still there, doing an internship.

Every year, roughly 200 Indians enroll for medical college in Wuhan, one of 12 across China. From Hyderabad alone, 1,000 students go to various Chinese universities.

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) is concerned that these medical students will be a mode of transmission of coronavirus to India.

“We are chalking out lists of possible transmission and this is only a preventive measure,” a senior health official said. “We are concerned about business travellers and students who carry the risk. A new strain raises concern in a populated country like ours.”

Incidentally, the state health department has no data on the number of students who opted to study medicine abroad. It is only concerned with the certification of the Medical Council of India (MCI) to colleges. These lacunae become a handicap when data is required for monitoring, assessing or extending help in the cases of infection.

“Evaluation only happens when a doctor from a Chinese University wants to practice in India,” said a senior doctor who demanded anonymity.

“The eligibility test gives us the number that appear for exams,” the doctor explained.

With the new strain still not declared as a notifiable disease in India, the threat of asymptomatic people is high. “Anyone returning from China to India must take anti-histamines and paracetamol,” said Dr K K Aggarwal, past president of Indian Medical Association. “This will help contain the virus if it is in a person and not spread.”

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