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International students fear coronavirus repercussions


Liaoning senior Hongzhe Shu scrolls through a Chinese form inquiring about coronavirus symptoms. 

Hongzhe Shu goes through a routine typical of most Central Michigan University students – he wakes up in his room, brushes his teeth and showers, eats breakfast and goes to class.

However, in the evening, Shu, a senior from the Chinese province of Liaoning, does a kind of homework that most other students don't have to deal with. 

Shu fills out a form that records his body temperature and requires him to list any coronavirus symptoms. Covid-19 is a specific strain of the coronavirus that experts believe originated from bats in Wuhan, China. The form asks if he’s been in contact with anyone who has symptoms along with many other questions. 

He’s sure he could go back to China after the spring semester, but he wonders how far the coronavirus will have spread by the time he leaves America. 

“I’m going back to China in May because I heard the virus will be controlled… before May,” Shu said. “I’m not sure if it will be controlled here.”

Typically, the health effects of the coronavirus are not very different from those you would experience if you contracted the common cold, explained George Kikano, dean of the College of Medicine.

Shu said that his Chinese university’s coronavirus form is “useless” for him at Central Michigan University, but acknowledges that the information may be useful in China. 

“There’s something different in the way Chinese people and American people think,” Shu said. 

When American people see face masks, they believe that person is sick, Shu said. Chinese people wear them to protect themselves and others, regardless if they are sick or not.

“You try to keep yourself safe,” Shu said.

Shu described how most people in China stay inside when they can, but his parents have to go to work. He said that he thinks some of his friends in China stayed home for more than 30 days before going out. 

Gyeonggi-do sophomore Nayeong Kim is worried about her quarantined family in South Korea. She checks every day for updates, she said. Most of her friends are abroad. None of her friends or family are infected.

She wouldn’t want to go back even if she had plans to during spring break.

“It’s (suicide) to go back,” Kim said.

While he’s afraid for his family and friends, Shu said he’s more afraid for himself. 

“The bill for the hospital is very high," Shu said, "so I’m nervous about that."