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SMU international student volunteers help city's pandemic prevention

2020-April-22       Source: Newsgd.com

There are currently 1,043 enrolled international students from 91 countries at the university. As of now, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the university.

Gideon Kiruba, from the south of India, has been studying for his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) at the Southern Medical University (SMU) since October 2014. At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Gideon decided not to leave China but stay here to observe and study the preventive measures taken.

Gideon Kiruba and his fellow international students share their stories at a press conference held by the Information Office of Guangzhou Municipal People's Government on April 18th. (Photo provided to Newsgd.com)

Thanks to the information and PPE provided by the university, community and government, Gideon said he and his fellow students were both safe and secure at the school. During his stay, Gideon joined the online training course offered by the WHO and received a certificate in IPC for COVID-19, and learned more about the situation with help from his teachers at the university affiliated Nanfang Hospital.

Gideon also joined SMU's volunteer group, helping to check temperatures and identities at the school gates together with another 21 international students from 18 different countries. Gideon said that being a volunteer had increased morale in the community, and he saw his friends and fellow international students happily taking part in the prevention and control work. "By doing this I believe that we can collectively achieve great success," Gideon smiled with confidence.

Last week, Gideon and his 13 fellow international students from 13 countries signed up as volunteers at the Guangzhou 8th People's Hospital, one of the designated hospitals for treating COVID-19 cases, to help in the treatment of asymptomatic foreign patients. Gideon added, "We hope the joint effort from both medical staff and international students will help to overcome any language barriers and help patients to receive more complete treatment and recover earlier."

Freddy Gahimbare (L) from Burundi and Nicanor Rapthap Lyngdoh from India sing a song dedicated to the people who are fighting COVID-19. (Photo provided to Newsgd.com)

According to Chen Jun, dean of the School of International Education, there are currently 1,043 enrolled international students from 91 countries at the university, 165 of whom are currently in the city, with 127 of them living on campus.

For the duration of the outbreak, the university has taken strict prevention and control measures across the campus, monitoring the health condition of all staff members and students on campus, prepared enough epidemic supplies and carried out drills for students' return. As of now, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the university.

In addition to taking good care of the students on campus, Chen said the school has also offered support to its students overseas by sending not only their well wishes but 50 surgical masks to each student in countries where international courier services are still operational.

SMU contributes to fight against COVID-19 

From the evening of January 24th, Chinese New Year's Eve, a traditional day for family reunion, SMU's affiliated hospitals sent 14 medical teams composed of 288 people to Hubei province to provide support in the fight against the epidemic. Now all team members have returned home safe and sound, Wen Mingang, vice-president of SMU, said proudly at a press conference.

Medical workers of Nanfang Hospital return home safe and sound. (Photo: Dong Tianjian)

In January, led by the university's Professor Zhou Hongwei, a lab team from the affiliated Zhujiang Hospital developed a highly sensitive antibody to aid in the diagnosis of COVID-19. The university then worked with several enterprises to manufacture diagnostic reagents which have been widely applied in both early diagnosis and on-site tests.

The university worked with the medical team led by renowned Chinese respiratory specialist Zhong Nanshan to jointly publish the research findings Clinical characteristics of the 2019 novel coronavirus infection in China' in the New England Journal of Medicine on February 28th, 2020.

SMU also carried out a series of research studies on the pathogenetic mechanisms, detection, reagents, asymptomatic infection and epidemiology of COVID-19, and have published a number of papers to share their findings with the world.

According to Yang Xingfang, dean of the School of Public Health, the school drafted a 15-member team of experts to help with on-site epidemiological investigations across the province starting from the beginning of February.

As of mid February, another 74 teachers and students joined the university's volunteer teams to conduct epidemiological surveys, take samples from railway and bus stations, assess the risk of further outbreaks in crowded venues, and sort through information relating to both confirmed and asymptomatic cases as well as their close contacts.

Author: Monica Liu

Editor: Simon Haywood

Editor: Monica Liu

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