Duong Rach Sanh, a Vietnamese student from prestigious Guangxi University in south China, has just spent the May Day holiday, his first holiday in Nanning, capital of the southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
"During the holiday, I spent a lot of time reading, surfing on the Internet and chatting with my classmates. Life is the same as usual except that we have to take our temperature and herbal medicine daily in a bid to prevent the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)," he said in Chinese on Tuesday.
Duong Rach Sanh is from Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam's largest economic hub, and works as reporter for a local Chinese newspaper.Three months ago, he came to study journalism at the university.
"The only difference may be that I and several of my classmates,also from Vietnam, gathered on April 30 to celebrate our national holiday, the anniversary of our country's reunification," he said.
This 25-year-old young man is among the nearly 800 foreign students and teachers, mainly from southeast Asian nations, like Vietnam and Thailand, who stayed in Guangxi for the special holiday.
The south China autonomous region has adopted a number of measures to prevent and control the transmission of SARS virus to foreigners since the first SARS case was identified.
Every foreign student has been provided with free herbal medicine, a thermometer and a gauze mask and the campuses have been thoroughly disinfected, including student dormitories, while medical instructions and consultation on SARS prevention both in Chinese and English are available for them at anytime.
According to officials with the local autonomous health bureau,none of the foreign students and teachers have been found to be infected with SARS, though to date, 20 cases have been spotted in Guangxi.
"So long as we take appropriate preventive measures, the diseaseis not to be feared," said Duong Rach Sanh.
Like Duong Rach Sanh, Millan Rai from Nepal, one of the 160-plus foreign students of Guangxi Medical Sciences University, enjoyed his holiday by participating in various kinds of entertainment activities and sports games organized by the university.
"I will tell my relatives and friends that we have enough prevention against SARS disease," said the 20-year-old Nepalese, pointing at a poster on SARS prevention on the wall of his dormitory.
According to a university official in charge of foreign students and teachers, besides bilingual posters, the university has also invited medical experts to impart on SARS prevention knowledge in English for the foreign students.
The Chinese government has been attaching great importance to the safety of foreigners in its battle against SARS.
Gao Qiang, executive Chinese vice-minister of health, said at apress conference on April 20 that China would resort to further substantial measures to protect the safety of people from overseasand to maintain normal international exchanges.
These days, group activities in the colleges and universities in the capital city are either canceled or postponed. Teachers have begun to give lectures on the Internet and students can receive tutoring over the telephone. Self-study is also encouragedby authorities of the institutions of higher learning.
(Xinhua News Agency May 7, 2003)