Mumbai: With the World Health Organisation declaring the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on Wednesday, parents of students studying abroad are panicking and want their children to return, prompted by safety concerns.
However, students want their parents to stay calm and not panic because they feel they are much safer at their universities and educational institutions abroad.
Many universities in the United States of America (USA), Germany, Canada, Italy and the United Kingdom (UK) have cancelled regular classes and gone online. Harvard University has posted a notice, stating:
“Students are asked not to return to campus after Spring Recess and to meet academic requirements remotely until further notice," while Humboldt University, Germany, has declared:
“All students, researchers and employees of scientific institutions who are returning from risk areas, are required to carry out a 14-day self-quarantine.” The University of Milan, Italy, has announced that all teaching and training activities will continue online.
Worried about the health of her daughter who is studying in Germany, Mumbai resident Priyanka Mehra said, “I am scared for my daughter, as Germany is worst-hit by the spread of COVID-19. I am communicating with her every day and want her to return home, as her classes have been cancelled too.”
"Our children will be safer at home," claimed Mukund Shah, whose son is studying at the California Institute of Arts, USA. Shah said, “I want my son to return because I do not think he is safe amidst international students and faculty members.”
However, other students and parents feel it is better to be abroad during this time, with access to medical facilities in the respective countries, instead of risking international travel.
Rajnesh Desai, a student studying in the USA, said, “It is not safe to travel and expose ourselves to international passengers during this time. We are safe at our universities. Parents should calm down and not create panic.”
While, Mehtaz Irani, a parent who has two daughters studying in Italy, said, “It is best for my daughters to stay in Italy and access medical assistance in case of emergency.
What is the guarantee that Mumbai is safe even if they plan on returning home?” Scarlet Castellino, an exchange student studying in London, said, “Returning to India at this time is not safe at all. Our universities are trying to help us maintain basic safety and hygiene.”