I’d rather be with my family than go through this alone, says SA student in China
Austin Dyers, 21, who is staying in Zhengzhou City in Henan Province, close to the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak, said they had been isolated since February 2 - the day the virus broke out.
“It can get a little overwhelming because you are just in your room every day; it gets stressful. We can go out but they don’t recommend us to. But we still do because sometimes we need to move our feet. We basically live here, but we are not allowed to leave the campus.”
Dyers is expected to return in May after almost a year in China.
“We will be sent home and quarantined. They didn’t exactly say where we would be quarantined - either Joburg or Cape Town.
“They didn’t say specifically what will happen there. They did say a few months ago that they might extend our visit here. So we possibly have to stay in China longer.
“We would actually like to be sent home. In terms of students, there’s a group of us. We got this opportunity from a woman who visited while I was studying 2D animation at False Bay College, Muizenberg.”
He said very little information had been communicated to him or his family about his return.
“I think it would be best if I come home as soon as possible, before the country possibly closes its borders and I won’t be able to come home at all.
“I’m still not sure if there’s a possibility that I’ll come home around May, but the sooner the better. I’d rather be with my family than go through this alone. It’s affecting my health.
“It messes with me mentally, and sometimes physically. The isolation gets to me. Not only me, but most of the Cape Town students - my friends - would like to come home as soon as possible.”
Dyers’ mother, Patricia Dyers, said: “I am desperate. I want him home as soon as possible. I want my president to help me make it happen that my son gets home safe. I do not want to see my son in that environment and living like that. I don’t see why he needs to stay there for another two months.”
A parent who chose to remain anonymous due to safety concerns said irrelevant information was being communicated. “We got one communication from the Chinese Cultural Centre and it wasn’t to my satisfaction. They don’t get back to us with an answer. They don’t acknowledge that they’ve received your message. So you can understand how frustrated we feel as parents. Reality is kicking in and I feel there is no communication.
“The least we wanted was for us to get some concrete information. The fact that they are being given expired items to eat. The kids were given milk that had an expiry date of January, which was given to them a few weeks ago.” She added that two students had contracted TB.
The parent said when she reached out to the Department of International Relations and Co-operation regarding the repatriation of the students, she was told that the government only arranged for the repatriation of South Africans in Wuhan and was not in a position to provide an immediate repatriation of individuals from other cities in China.
The Chinese Cultural Centre could not be reached for a comment before going to print.