TOMSK, Mar 18 – RIA Tomsk. Foreign exchange students
studying in Tomsk began to receive recommendations from the authorities of
their countries and the administrations of sending universities to return home
in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. Students themselves told RIA Tomsk
why some of them leave while others stay.
It was previously reported that an outbreak of
pneumonia caused by a new type of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 was recorded in Wuhan,
China at the end of 2019. The disease is called COVID-19. On March 11, WHO
announced a coronavirus pandemic. Since March 17 all universities of Tomsk in
accordance with the recommendation of the Ministry of Education and Science
switched to distance learning.
© РИА Томск. Павел Стефанский
And in early March, foreign students who study in
Tomsk in academic mobility programs began to receive letters from their
"native" universities and diplomatic structures of their countries
with recommendations to return home. Documents from the UK, USA, Finland, Czech
Republic and other countries are at the disposal of RIA Tomsk.
"Aalto University advises Finnish citizens and
residents to return as soon as possible, as returning in the near future is likely
to be even more problematic", – says a letter from a Finnish university.
It is safer in Siberia
However, not all foreign students are in a hurry to
return to their countries. The main argument they make in favor of not leaving
Tomsk – is the comparative safety of Siberia, since the incidence rate here is
still much lower than in Europe.
So, a student from the UK, Felix Pullen, who came to
our city to study Russian, told the agency that now he sees no reason to
return, since he considers the situation in Tomsk much better than at home:
"At the moment, the Russian authorities have not
yet blocked flights, so I can still go home if I want. But at the same time, I
don’t understand why I should go if I still can’t do anything there, and there
are in Tomsk restaurants, cafes and bars are open, everything is working fine.
In the UK, people are more scared, and there is a feeling that it will be even
Felix added that he might decide to leave if the
situation with the coronavirus escalates in Tomsk, but at the moment he’s sure
that this should not be done.
Another argument in favor of Tomsk is that traveling
in today's situation - is an even greater risk, since the plane and the airport
are dangerous places in the midst of an epidemic.
"I plan to wait a bit and see how the situation
develops. I’m sure that the situation in Moscow is much more dangerous,
especially at the airport", – said a student who arrived in Tomsk from
If it's quarantined, then at home
Those students who decided to follow the
recommendations and return home, believe that the pandemic violated their plans
for training and spending time in Tomsk, and it is better quarantine at home,
in the usual conditions. In addition, foreigners are not sure whether their
medical insurance will work in Russia in case of infection with COVID-19.
"I decided to leave because the situation with
the virus does not give confidence and I do not want to end up self-isolated in
another country where I can’t leave home or even just leave Tomsk. I would
prefer to isolate myself in a country where I feel much more comfortable,
surrounded by a family where I will be guaranteed access to medical care",
– a student from the UK Rosario Rospo said.
Young people are also worried about their relatives
who are experiencing a pandemic in Europe, and want to return to support them.
Many students, especially from Italy, urge Russians to take risks responsibly
in order to prevent the scale that the pandemic has reached in their countries.
Earlier it was reported that at the end of 2019
students from 91 countries of the world studied at Tomsk universities. The
editors asked Tomsk universities for information on the number of foreign
students who left in connection with the coronavirus.
About the situation with coronavirus
According to Izvestia, as of the morning of March 18,
the number of cases in the world is more than 180 thousand people, about 7.5
As TASS previously reported, as of the evening of
March 17 in Russia were recorded 114 cases of COVID-19 infection, including two
in Kemerovo and one in Krasnoyarsk. Five people (two Chinese citizens, two
Russians and an Italian) have already recovered. No cases of coronavirus
infection have been detected in the Tomsk region yet.