“We trust that the Dutch authorities have taken the right measures,” says an EUR spokesperson. At present, the university and Wuhan are not directly connected in any way. While Wuhan University is a partner university of EUR, no students or staff members from Wuhan are currently in Rotterdam, or vice versa.
A lot of exchange students will be arriving in Rotterdam over the next few weeks. While the university is unable to say how many of them exactly are from China, it can confirm that there will be no students from Wuhan. Every year, over 300 Chinese nationals study at Erasmus University.
The coronavirus is causing a lot of uncertainty in China and the rest of the world. This pulmonary virus first appeared in the metropole of Wuhan in eastern Central China in December. With over 6,000 confirmed infections, the death toll in China currently stands at around 130. The Chinese government has extended the holiday period after Chinese New Year and will be keeping universities closed until this Sunday at the very least.
EUR will be monitoring the situation as it unfurls to determine if and when it should take further measures in the future. “The university is keeping a close eye on developments and is following all measures as communicated by RIVM,” writes the university in a recent statement.
Pulmonary complaints? Get in touch with your GP
In addition, the university advises students and staff members who intend to travel to China to regularly visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For the time being, the Ministry has only warned travellers of possible safety risks in China. However, it has issued more explicit advice for Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital: only travel there when strictly necessary.
RIVM states that “To date, WHO has not recommended any specific health measures for travellers to China. In general, travellers are advised to avoid markets with live animals and to take general hygiene measures. People who have travelled in the Wuhan region in the last two weeks and experience lung problems can contact their GP. Before you go, please call ahead and tell about your recent travel and your symptoms.”
Keeping a cool head
The Netherlands’ other research universities and universities of applied sciences are also keeping a cool head for the time being. “We don’t have much to report,” says a spokesperson of the University of Groningen (RUG), speaking with the Higher Education Press Information Desk. “Our exchange students in China aren’t set up in the high-risk areas, so we aren’t taking any further steps for the moment.”
Like its Rotterdam counterpart, RUG is following the recommendations issued by RIVM. This is also confirmed by Delft University of Technology, which has by far the most students from China (a total of 641 in 2018) and Wageningen University (runner-up with 505 Chinese students). The latter institution has postponed a planned trip by students to the Chinese city of Dongguan by at least one month. They would be travelling there to take part in a design competition.
Leiden University is staying in touch with 13 students who are currently in China but not in Wuhan, says a university spokesperson. They have posted a FAQ on the intranet with questions like ‘Should I worry about contact with students or staff members who have recently arrived back from China?’ and ‘Can students and staff members still go ahead with their plans to travel to China?’
‘Category A disease’
Leiden University advises against travelling to China, as does the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The UvA Board arrived at this recommendation after its partner universities in China decided to remain closed for the time being.
Earlier in the week, France confirmed three cases of the coronavirus, followed by the first confirmed infection in Germany shortly after. On Tuesday, three people in the Netherlands were also tested for the virus, but none of them proved infected.
Minister for Medical Care Bruno Bruins (VVD) has announced that the virus is considered a ‘Category A disease’. This means that healthcare workers who suspect that someone is infected with the virus are required to immediately notify the Municipal Health Service (GGD).
Correction 12-2 The information that there are currently no students or employees from Wuhan in Rotterdam is incorrect. There are people from Wuhan studying or working at Erasmus University, but nobody traveled from Wuhan to the university since the outbreak of the virus.