Paris: As the French government announced shutting of all colleges and other non-essential places to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, uncertainty looms over future of hundreds of international students studying across France.
Last week, French President Immanuel Macron announced stringent measures including the closing of schools, universities, shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities followed by a health advisory for people to stay at home, to avoid the spread of the virus.
“I wouldn’t want to go home and take the virus with me to India. Young people may not be acutely affected but still can be carriers. There are old people in my family and I wouldn't risk jeopardising their health,” said KC Sachin, a student at Sciences Po in Paris.
Suggesting self-quarantine as the best course of action, Sachin added that he spends time catching up on reading, watching movies and playing games along with his internship.
Annually, Paris receives several international students via exchange programmes. Universities like Sciences Po claims to host international students coming from 150 countries which is almost 49 percent of the total students. As a result of the shutdown, a large number of international students have been leaving for their home countries.
“I left France as I prefer to live with my parents than living all alone in such a situation. I think that people, especially in France, have been taking the situation very lightly,” said Lucas Nikolas, a student of Sorbonne University who left for this home in Monaco.
“Last semester during my first year in France, there were strikes all over Paris and we had to take a month off as everything was shut. And this time, everything is locked down due to Coronavirus”, said Yara Youssef, an Economics student at Sorbonne University in Paris
“I'm in my room as the city is blocked, our movements have been frozen, my university is blocked and nothing is functional except pharmacies and supermarkets,” added Yaara. After the government has shut common places residents of Paris are mostly indoors.
The scepticism amid students continues, as several international flights from France have also been cancelled.
Universities are devising means to resume studies via online classes. In an official statement, Sciences Po authorities confirmed that they will resume classes from next Monday, March 23. While health professionals, scientists and governments are clueless about the epidemic’s end, international students are not sure of whether they should stay or leave for home countries.
So far, 6,650 confirmed Coronavirus cases have been recorded in France.