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M'sian students in UK left in limbo as Covid-19 cases spike

CORONAVIRUS | Malaysian students in the United Kingdom, particularly in Manchester are in limbo, not knowing what to do next as the death toll for Covid-19 passes 1,000 while 17,000 cases recorded in the country.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein urged Malaysians who are still in the UK and the United States to fly home while commercial flights are still available as well as to avoid unnecessary complications.

It was understood that the advice was directed to Malaysians stranded overseas due to holidays, personal matters as well as work related-trips.

At the same time, Malaysian students under the sponsorship programme of Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) as well as the Public Service Department (PSD) were advised to remain calm and stay in the country of study.

"Students are advised to remain in their country they are studying until Mara obtain further instructions to bring sponsored students home. So far there is no need to bring students back via similar evacuation operation implemented by the Malaysian government in Italy and Iran,” Mara said in a statement.

Students and parents' concern heightened amid the number of flights suspension worldwide. Several countries have taken measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, which include lockdowns, shutting down airports and imposing travel restrictions.

As at March 2020, there are 2,932 Mara-sponsored students overseas and according to Mara, the United Kingdom has the highest number at 902; followed by Australia with 372; India, 312; West Germany, 246; Ireland, 225; and the United States, 222.

Students have raised their concerns on their presence in the UK, especially in terms of eligibility to get treatment if they contracted Covid-19.

Most of the universities have changed the mode of study as well as examination to virtual learning and online examination. Universities including the University of Manchester has closed its public areas including offices and libraries as a response to a partial lockdown announcement on March 23.

At the time of writing, students are still waiting for a response and clarity from the High Commission of Malaysia in London.

The World Health Organization has labelled the outbreak as pandemic following its spread in more than 114 countries.

- Bernama

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