National

Universities in Japan take precautions in response to coronavirus outbreak

JIJI

Universities are scrambling to deal with the threat of infections from the coronavirus outbreak wreaking havoc in China and around the world.

Many are monitoring their students’ health, especially those who visited China for the Lunar New Year holidays.

Ritsumeikan University, which has some 1,400 Chinese students, called or emailed 25 who came from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. According to the school, based in Kyoto, 22 did not leave Japan in the past month but two are currently in Wuhan.

The school confirmed the status of the pair and is seeking information on another 35 from Hubei province. Wuhan is the capital of Hubei.

The school’s operator, Ritsumeikan Trust, published a warning Tuesday for students and staff members entering Japan from China, calling on those with fever or other symptoms to inform airport authorities, and those without symptoms to monitor their own health for two weeks after arriving.

Another school run by Ritsumeikan Trust, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, decided to cancel all programs taking place in China. It also canceled plans to send three exchange students there this month.

Other universities, such as Doshisha University in Kyoto and Tokyo University of Science, also suspended their programs in China.

Tokushima University in Shikoku had two Japanese studying at Wuhan University. Both returned to Japan in early January, before the Lunar New Year holidays, but one was slated to go back to Wuhan this month. Since the coronavirus outbreak postponed the start of classes, however, the student remains in Japan.

“We ask those returning from China to stay at home for two weeks,” a representative of Gakushuin University in Tokyo said. The elite school sent out an email message calling on its Chinese students to be careful with their health when traveling home for the holidays.

Some Japanese studying in China are trying to suspend their programs and return to Japan. According to the administrative office of the public-private Tobitate! Study Abroad Initiative, an academic aid program, many who have received its scholarships are now asking how suspending the overseas studies will affect their financial aid.

“(Students) can rest assured that we will deal with the issue flexibly and not demand repayment,” a representative said.

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