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Desperate Wuhan evacuees finally heave a great sigh of relief



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By Sampada Anuranjanee Khatiwada

Kathmandu, Feb. 18: The government on Saturday evacuated 175 Nepalis from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of deadly Covid-19.
Among the returnees, 170 were students while one was an employee, two visitors and two children.
Pramila Poudel, 26, one of the returnees, shared her experience of living in Wuhan amid the epidemic outbreak with The Rising Nepal.
Poudel, a student of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan, was living on the university premises when the Covid-19 broke out.
“We took the virus outbreak very lightly during the initial days,” Poudel said. “We thought it would go in a while just like any other epidemic.”
After all the public transport services were shut down in Wuhan on January 23, we realised that the outbreak had become serious, added Poudel.
Poudel said that they used to leave the university premises only to buy their basic utilities. “We used to be all covered in mask and overalls and kept ourselves sanitized all the time.”
Later, the university halted students outflow and started providing them with all the basic utilities, she said.
“I, along with my flat-mates and everyone in the university, were terrified by the virus,” said Poudel. “We felt helpless as other international students had started returning to their homeland.”
“We then decided to write a letter to the Embassy of Nepal in Beijing, following which, the Embassy issued an evacuation form,” she added.
“This ignited hope in all of our hearts. But we didn’t hear anything from the Embassy for 15 days,” Poudel said. “We felt miserable to have been living with the threat of infection while all of our fellow students had flown to their home countries.”
Poudel said that the Nepalis living in Wuhan had lost all their hopes as they did not hear anything from the government for two weeks.
She said that they had been facing scarcity of drinking water within the university as the days passed by.
It was a horrific experience to be living amidst the outbreak of such a deadly virus, threatening our lives. “I am glad that we have escaped the epicenter,” Poudel said.
Poudel said that she wouldn’t return to China if she could complete the remaining courses of her Master’s degree online.
Experience of living in quarantine
“Though late, the government has successfully rescued us from the land of Covid-19,” said Saurav Luitel, another Wuhan returnee. He said that it felt like they had won a battle as soon as they landed in Kathmandu.
“We were relieved as soon as we reached the quarantine,” he said.
“Even though India and Bangladesh rescued their nationals residing in Wuhan a week earlier than Nepal, Nepal has left both the countries behind in terms of preparations,” Luitel said.  
Luitel said that Nepal’s quarantine was much better compared to the quarantines of India and Bangladesh.
In India and Bangladesh, the returnees are kept in tin-sheds while we have been kept in concrete houses with appropriate environment, Luitel added.
“The environment here is much cleaner and safer,” he said.
“Sadly, six Nepalis couldn’t come along due to rise in their body temperature,” Poudel further added.
“As soon as we boarded the aircraft, we were amazed to see the preparations of Nepal to keep us, and the nation safe,” Poudel said.

The interior of the entire aircraft was covered and well sanitised with doctors and health workers standby.
“The quarantine is also well facilitated and well managed to our surprise,” said Poudel. “It is fat better than what we had expected.”
“Every room holds three beds, there is a separate block for males and females,” said Poudel. “Televisions are also installed to keep us informed and entertained.”
Poudel said that various indoor and outdoor games were also available within the quarantine.
“We are given food four times in a day including breakfast in the morning, lunch in the afternoon, snack during the evening and dinner at night. We’re served good food and our health is also under constant surveillance of doctors. There’s no way for us to get affected by any kind of virus,” she said.
Poudel called everyone to accept them as they returned home. “We have got over the dreadful situation. No one in Nepal should be scared of the virus now.”
All the returnees are thankful to the government for fulfilling its responsibilities and for taking good care of its citizens.
They will be kept in quarantine at Kharipati for 14 days. 

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