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Expats stay upbeat as Tianjin goes full throttle to contain COVID-19 resurgence

Updated: Jan 14, 2022 Xinhua Print
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TIANJIN -- Bah Alieu, a Gambian student at north China's Tianjin University, just spent a sleepless winter night, queueing up with 15,000 other students in the schoolyard for the second mass nucleic acid testing on Tuesday.

Two infections were first reported on Dec 8 in the city's Jinnan District, where Alieu resides. Gene sequencing soon confirmed that they were caused by the highly-infectious VOC/Omicron variant.

As of 2 pm Wednesday, a total of 137 people had been infected with COVID-19 in Tianjin, a municipality of 13.86 million people that neighbors Beijing, with all the cases attributable to the Omicron variant.

Alieu said he was impressed by the swift response of the local government in organizing such a large-scale mass nucleic acid testing.

"I believe if we tackled problems with such an attitude, the world will be a better place... This is about us, it is about humanity. Stay strong Tianjin, stay strong China," said Alieu.

The Jinnan campus of Nankai University began imposing closed-off management at 4 pm on Dec 8, and by 1 am the next day, the first round of testing for all staff members had been completed.

Minasyan Anush, an Armenian student from Nankai University, has remained in close contact with staffers and community workers despite living off-campus.

"I can see how hard the government and people are fighting against it (the epidemic). Nucleic acid testing centers are open 24 hours a day, the shops are not completely closed, people's basic needs can be met, as you can still find vegetables, fruits, meat, rice, noodles in the shops," she said, adding that Tianjin has everything prepared for its people.

"Now the whole city is under control, and this is what makes me feel safe. Don't be afraid of the current situation, be brave enough to face it, believe that by standing together we all will be out of it," she told Xinhua, extending her good wishes for the city.

For students stranded in the Jinnan campus, Nankai University mobilized more than 100 volunteers to help conduct regular disinfection and serve the daily needs of the students.

"I was surprised by the well-organized work of doctors and teachers," said Garabekov Muhammet, a junior student from Turkmenistan studying at Tianjin University. "Since the campus enforced quarantine measures, teachers have coordinated with food vendors to arrange deliveries to the university. I have been in China for three years, I am sure that the authorities in Tianjin and the locals will together defeat the virus."

Marques Maia Diana Alexandra, a Portuguese teacher at Nankai University, hasn't been home in over two years. "Seeing everyone's efforts in fighting this global problem, the scientific advancements, good government policies and people's determination, I'm hopeful that we will soon see better days," she said.

"The measures of the Chinese government may seem too severe and inconvenient to some people, but in my opinion, they are necessary to prevent a more serious situation. I believe we should focus on getting the best long-term results and do whatever we can to achieve it," she added.

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