50-plus Malawians trapped  in ‘no-go zone’ coronavirus epicentre: China’s Wuhan like a death city

At least 50 Malawians are stuck in  Wuhan, ground zero of China’s coronavirus outbreak, which has killed 170 people  and  close to 7,000  people have been infected.

I’m trapped in Wuhan: It’s like a death city

Unlike countries such as the United States, Japan  and the United Kingdom that are evacuating their citizens, the Malawi government has not made such arrangement. This has caused panic among the Malawians there as they are running out of cash and supplies.

When the coronavirus began to get serious, Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province in central China, announced a lockdown, with roads getting closed, flights grounded, trains cancelled and public places cordoned in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

The lockdown has left 11 million Wuhan residents including 51 Malawians, stranded.  When the whole Hubei was locked down, there were an additional seven Malawians in Yichang City and one in Xianning City.  Hubei has a population of 58.5 million.

Asked on a Chinese social networking App We-Chat what their most urgent need was, the students said: “ We are out of food.”

The students were commenting on questions by the reporter on the ‘Malawians in China’ group on which their names were not requested but their authenticity was verified.

Said another student: “We have been on lockdown for eight days now. Shops are closed, as you might have heard. They are only opening specific ones at specific points and times, mostly  two to three hours.

“Going there is a personal risk as no one knows who has been exposed to what and where. Prices of commodities have gone higher than the usual, and it is a hustle to actually buy what you need as  the demand is high.”

With the viral infection killed hundreds of people and infected at least 6 000 others in China, the  lockdowns might not end soon, and that is worrying the students.

“The [Malawian] Government should [consider] topping up students in China that our stipends won’t take us far. Our purchasing power has been compromised,” said another student.

Bachelor’s degree students on scholarship in China get 2500 Yuan (K265 000) stipend per month. While that may seem a lot in Malawi, in China it is just enough to cover ones basic needs like food, electricity, Internet, drinking water and, in some case, pay to shower

Malawi Ambassador Charles Namondwe, in a telephone interview dismissed  the students’ call to be evacuated, saying those who want to leave Wuhan would have to do so on their own.

He said the Chinese authorities are in constant contact with him and are calling on everyone to “stay calm and confident” that the issues would be resolved.

However, Namondwe warned that the issue may take time to go away and declined to comment on the students request for an allowance top-up indicating that it was an issue his superiors in Malawi would be better placed to tackle.

Namondwe said there are 56 Malawian students and one army officer in Hubei, which differs slightly with the numbers the students have of themselves.

State-run CGTN reported that World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus said evacuation of nationals from  Wuhan are not recommended.

He instead called for calm, saying he was confident in China’s response to the outbreak.

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Abusa Steven
Abusa Steven
10 months ago

The scholarship the government provided is more than enough to maintain an acceptable living standard in a city such as Wuhan. The students probably need to learn some budgeting now.

wawa@gmail.com
10 months ago

This Namondwe guy, is his role to advance the Chinese message or the welfare of the students? He is very quick to comment on the Chinese version but quickly avoids an issue which he is supposed to speak on. How can he say that his superiors in Malawi will handle something that he is supposed to be handling. I was hoping that he will be committing to mobilise funds and food for the stranded Malawians.

Erdos
Erdos
10 months ago

Mmm those students angofuna kulidyera ndalama boma.. They are greedy and selfish, 2500¥ is more than enough for all those expenses. Ineso ndili ku China, awa mabodza awa

Dan
Dan
10 months ago

But even evacuating them would also mean in a way exposing may Malawians to the same danger. Other countries you say evacuated their citizens have very vibrant health care systems to contain the spreading what will you do there in Malawi where all the moneys drain out to theft. Better leave the few population there than risk the population whole.

Bright
Bright
10 months ago
Reply to  Dan

The thing is, akawasamusa, they are kept somewhere for sometime, say 1 week to see if they have signs of infection. After the quarantine period, they are free to join thier friends or families. Atleast they will start enjoying life than staying there.

good
good
10 months ago

Ndendeuli you are spot on. Also if indeed the Malawians were allowed to leave, why risk the lives of 19million. we all know that their chances of survival are much better there than Malawi. If they are in University then that shouldn’t be an issue. if not, the embassy should look into it.

Koko
Koko
10 months ago
Reply to  good

You evacuate them to their homes and put them in quarantine. Simple.

KK wa Bts
10 months ago

Our ambassadors they just enjoy good life once deployed in foreign, ask us here in SA during xenos. The only job is to welcome officials from Malawi at the airport. I don’t even know the name of our ambassador here in SA. Mbuzi zeni zeni just like their master APM.

Jijo
Jijo
10 months ago
Reply to  KK wa Bts

Further, namondwe is another lhomwe cadet

Ndendeuli
Ndendeuli
10 months ago

Mr reporter, how do you evacuate people who are under a lockdown?

tuntufye
tuntufye
10 months ago
Reply to  Ndendeuli

ndipo? do we have the capacity to handle them. Amalawi excitement with speculation tanyanya

Wawo
Wawo
10 months ago
Reply to  Ndendeuli

Through planes just like the other countries are doing.

namii
namii
10 months ago
Reply to  Ndendeuli

There are other countries doing this at the moment, have you bothered to research before asking this question.

Bright
Bright
10 months ago
Reply to  Ndendeuli

They can be asked to report to the evacuation centre.

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