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Lack of quarantine facility detracts student’s repatriation from Wuhan

Lack of quarantine facility detracts student’s repatriation from Wuhan

The Ethiopian Embassy in China has written a letter to the Ethiopian Students Union in Wuhan, informing them of the fact that they cannot be evacuated and repatriated back to Ethiopia due to lack of capacity to quarantine them once brought home. The students have been stranded in the city, Wuhan, virtually a ghost town since the beginning of the outbreak that has killed more than a thousand people now, The Reporter has learnt.

In letter signed by the consulate general of Chongqing, the close to 200 students, who are under lock-down in Wuhan China, were told in no uncertain terms that in due consideration to the lack of quarantine capacity in Ethiopia and in line with the warning issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the exposure of weak African countries to the coronavirus due to lack of proper containment facilities.

“The issue of repatriating Ethiopian students from Wuhan to Ethiopia should be viewed as simple issue of arranging flights or bearing the financial burden, but it should be understood to be connected to the WHO and Ministry of Health standard regarding quarantine facilities, medical professionals, Laboratories and like,” the Letter, adding that consulate office is fully aware of the situation of the students and will be there to support them otherwise.            

This comes as the Ethiopian ambassador to China, Teshome Toga, is adamant that the embassy, along with its consulate general offices in various locations in China, is doing their best to accommodate the students. This also comes as most nations evacuate their citizens as most families and students cry that little is done to help them.  

“As you may know, we have four Ethiopian missions in China; three Consulate General Offices and the Embassy in Beijing. When COVID-19 epidemic was declared, the first measure that we took was to organize ourselves to manage the crisis,” the ambassador told The Reporter. “We established a crisis management team under my coordination where the heads of the other three missions and the Deputy Head of the Embassy are included.”

However, students, who are members of the Ethiopian Students Union in Wuhan, told The Reporter that, the embassy was mute until this week, with the exception of sending YouTube videos on the basics of the disease, informing them on how to take care of themselves.

“It really is a sad situation and we are stuck with nowhere to go. We feel we have come to a dead-end and the reply from the embassy has little hope,” one student who asked her name not to be used told The Reporter. Many students are said to be devastated with the reply of the embassy.

However, the ambassador is confident every decision is made with the realities of his nation in mind.

“Since the Chinese Lunar year, Wuhan was under lockdown and one could imagine the psychological stress this would bear on anyone; the students, parents and on us on the frontline. Therefore, before making any decision, thorough assessment and preparations are needed in the best interest of the students and the nation,” the ambassador said.

Reinstating the information given by the World Health Organization (WHO), that “African countries have weak health infrastructure and facilities,” the ambassador estimates, there are about 15 countries that have evacuated their nationals from Wuhan and only 3 countries from Africa, including: Egypt, Morocco and Algeria repatriated their students from Wuhan.

The Reporter reached out to the Ethiopian State Minister of Health, Lia Tadesse, however, as of press time, there was no reply.