Gov’t to support students from China

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Gov’t to support students from China

Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae on Thursday asked local governments in Korea for their cooperation in providing single-occupancy accommodation to quarantine Chinese students or students who visited China, who are returning for the spring semester.

In a video conference with mayors and governors from all 17 administrative divisions in Korea, Yoo urged local governments to help provide accommodation for some 70,000 Chinese students who will be required to stay in individual rooms for 14 days after their return in a bid to monitor and stop the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in Korea. Fourteen days is the incubation period of the infection.

“Universities, especially those which are located in Seoul, have insufficient dormitories to manage their foreign students,” Yoo said. “Universities can react effectively to the emergency situation if the local government offers accommodation for the Chinese students.”

On average, Korean universities accommodate up to 22 percent of their students in their dormitories. In the case of universities located in Seoul, only 13.5 percent of students are allowed to live in school dormitories, which range from two-bed rooms to four-bed rooms and are not suitable for quarantine purposes.

Universities will be responsible for accommodating any Chinese students they can, while the remaining students will be assigned to spaces provided by local governments.

The Ministry of Education also asked local governments to help schools disinfect their dormitories and cafeterias. An emergency hotline between local government offices and universities will be opened as well in case students show symptoms of the coronavirus and need to be quarantined.

“All students and university employees coming to schools from China, regardless of their nationality, will be subject to 14 days of mandatory quarantine,” Yoo said. “Universities, excluding some schools that own hospitals in their campuses, are not capable of coping with this emergency situation. Close cooperation between the local governments and universities needs to be established in order to take effective preventive measures.”

Yoo added that universities should exert efforts to reduce Korean students’ potential prejudices against students returning from China amid the coronavirus outbreak.

She said Chinese students enrolled in Korean universities also need to be protected by the government.

After the meeting, Yoo visited Kyung Hee University and Sungkyunkwan University in central Seoul, the two schools that have the most Chinese students in the country, to examine their preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus and hear about the schools’ difficulties.

“When universities start their spring semester, they must remain vigilant for at least for a month,” Yoo said during a meeting held at Sungkyunkwan University. “All Chinese students should be provided with single-occupancy rooms and the schools should encourage them to refrain from going outdoors.”

BY CHEA SARAH, NAM YOON-SEO [chea.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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