A number of students that have arrived in Australia from China have been quarantined at University of Sydney’s on campus accommodation.
A number of students that have arrived in Australia from China have been quarantined at University of Sydney’s on campus accommodation.

‘Wear a mask’: Uni students in lockdown

A number of international students have been placed in quarantine on campus at the University of Sydney in a bid to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Under new government guidelines students who have recently returned from China's Hubei Province, the epicentre of the virus, must self-isolate for 14 days from their date of departure.

Those that left mainland China after February 1 must also isolate themselves for the same period of time.

As an added precaution, the university has asked students who have arrived in Australia from China in the past two weeks to also undergo a period of isolation.

Students who have flu symptoms but have been cleared by a medical professional as not having the coronavirus have also been included in the quarantine.

A number of students have been isolated at the University of Sydney.
A number of students have been isolated at the University of Sydney.

As a result the University of Sydney is currently using two student residences to accommodate those that need to be quarantined.

"In order to protect our community and minimise the risk of transmission, two University residences are being temporarily repurposed to house our students living in our student accommodation that need to undergo a period of isolation," a spokesperson for the university said.

Turning these residences into quarantined zones mean that the students who were living at the accommodation but don't need to be isolated have been asked to temporarily move to a different residence.

 

 

"We're currently working through our procedures, and are in the process of communicating with impacted students in order to provide certainty and clear instructions on next steps," the spokesperson said.

"We're aware that this will be inconvenient and distressing for some of our community, and we thank them for their co-operation and understanding.

"Always, the safety, health and wellbeing of our students is our first priority."

The university has asked the quarantined students to remain on the accommodation, avoid visiting public spaces and to minimise interaction with others for the period of isolation.

If at some point one of the students do need to leave the accommodation they are "required to wear a face mask".

The students have been offered free food deliveries for the duration of the isolation, with the university also organising transport to the accommodation, wi-fi, entertainment access, pastoral care and regular medical checks.

Masks are now a common sight around Sydney as more people take precautions against the spread of the virus. Picture: Tim Pascoe
Masks are now a common sight around Sydney as more people take precautions against the spread of the virus. Picture: Tim Pascoe

There have been 14 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Australia and of these, three people have recovered and been released.

Under new travel restrictions imposed by the Australian Government non-Australian citizens or permanent residents who have been in China since February 1 are not allowed into Australia

China's deputy ambassador to Australia, Wang Xining, recently criticised an apparent lack of consultation or advanced notice on the travel ban.

Australian officials tried to contact the Chinese Government half an hour before the prime minister announced the travel ban on Saturday, but the call was not answered.

Mr Wang said he was concerned about the thousands of Chinese students not able to come to Australia over the next fortnight.

Wang Xining, Minister and Deputy Head of Mission of the Chinese Embassy in Australia, criticised the travel ban. Picture Gary Ramage
Wang Xining, Minister and Deputy Head of Mission of the Chinese Embassy in Australia, criticised the travel ban. Picture Gary Ramage

"We are in touch with the universities and also with the education ministry to sort out a proper solution for these students," Mr Wang said.

"We hope their rights and interests will be safeguarded, including proper expansion of visas if the validity is over, and also maybe proper compensation for some of the financial losses during this period."

University of Sydney's Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence informed staff in an email that the last dates students need to be on campus to join classes had been extended to March 30.

"This gives students more time to arrive in Australia and undertake the self-isolation period, as we await the Australian Government's review of the current travel ban," the email read.

Those students that are impacted by the travel ban or the coronavirus will not have to pay a fee to suspend, defer or withdraw from their studies.

Remote teaching arrangements are also being set up to try and accommodate those students that may be affected.


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