Over 20 Chinese universities postpone another semester to stop COVID-19

Freshmen of the class of 2021 enter the campus of Hainan University. Source: Hainan University

More than 20 colleges and universities across China have decided to postpone the start dates of the new semester, in a move that public health experts say is necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19, as many places to across the country are battling sporadic outbreaks. .

Due to the serious and complex epidemic situation across the country, some universities and colleges in municipalities and provinces, including Beijing, Shaanxi (northwest China), Fujian (east China), Hainan (southern China), Liaoning and Jilin (northeastern China), have decided to postpone the start of the new semester.

The delays came after a recent notification issued by China’s Ministry of Education, urging the country’s universities to carry out scientific and accurate prevention and control of the epidemic normalized by carefully arranging the return of faculty and students.

Following the notification, at least four universities in Shaanxi have decided to postpone their enrollment dates for freshmen, as the province is at a critical stage in its battle against Omicron BA.2.76 and BA.5.1.3 which caused a sudden outbreak. in Shaanxi recently.

A total of 156 local confirmed cases and 129 silent carriers have been identified in the province as of Saturday, local health authorities said on Sunday.

Experts pointed out that multiple factors, including the peak of summer travel and the approaching new school season with huge staff flows, have posed greater risks and put increased pressure on epidemic prevention and control. provincial.

In addition to universities in Shaanxi, at least four colleges in Hainan, including Hainan Normal University, Hainan University, Hainan Medical University and Hainan Vocational University of Science and Technology, have all reported student enrollment or arrival dates in accordance with the local epidemic prevention and control requirement.

Famous tourist destinations in the province, including Sanya and Haikou, have been placed under “static management” after a sudden outbreak broke out in Sanya and spread to other cities in the province.

The current epidemic situation in Hainan is improving, with the number of infections across the province declining for three consecutive days and infections detected in communities declining significantly, local authorities said at a press briefing Sunday after -midday.

In some other provinces where only sporadic outbreaks have been reported, such as Fujian, Guangdong, Liaoning and Jilin, some universities have also decided to postpone the start dates of their new semesters.

In the capital Beijing, as Tsinghua University, one of China’s most prestigious universities, welcomed the arrival of 3,700 freshmen as of August 17, and Peking University, another renowned Chinese university, will host freshmen and graduate students on August 28 and 29, other universities including Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing Normal University and Central Academy of Fine Arts arts, have adjusted their arrangements for the new semester, with some moving to online registration for first-year students or delaying new semester start dates to mid-September.

The main purpose of these arrangements is to reduce possible transmission of the virus by staggering the start dates of different colleges, a Beijing-based immunologist told the Global Times on Sunday on condition of anonymity.

As there are still sporadic outbreaks of COVID-19 in some places with considerable numbers of asymptomatic infections, risks of a surge will exist if all universities start on the same date or during the same period with crowds of students coming across the country, says the expert.

“Students coming from different locations with different levels of risk and with possible risks of virus transmission through public transportation may pose risks to campus,” the immunologist and university professor said, noting that universities should prepare their specific management plans for students upon arrival. .