S'porean students in UK wait it out amid new wave of Covid-19

They are attending classes and taking precautions where needed

Ms Teresa Yong, 22, a third-year student at the University of Manchester, returned to Britain in late August. She says she is not too concerned about the pandemic as her "university is quite prepared to move everything online as well as take strong a
Ms Teresa Yong, 22, a third-year student at the University of Manchester, returned to Britain in late August. She says she is not too concerned about the pandemic as her "university is quite prepared to move everything online as well as take strong action against anyone who violates social distancing rules in school compounds". PHOTO: SHAUN FOO

Many Singaporeans studying in Britain are choosing to hunker down and wait it out despite a new wave of Covid-19 sweeping through the country, including in more than 30 universities, with few considering returning home.

According to British media, thousands of students have been in self-isolation since the new school term started last month, and at least 33 universities were reported to have confirmed cases of Covid-19 amid a second wave in the country.

They include Aberdeen University, Durham University, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Glasgow.

Ms Teresa Yong, 22, a third-year student at the University of Manchester, which is just 500m away from Manchester Metropolitan University, said the news makes her "a little worried about attending in-person classes now".

"But in terms of long-term considerations, I'm not that worried because my university is quite prepared to move everything online as well as take strong action against anyone who violates social distancing rules in school compounds," said Ms Yong, who is reading social anthropology. She returned to Manchester in late August.

Last month, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that university students might have to remain on campus over the Christmas break to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, if there were widespread issues with outbreaks on campuses.

Ms Yong said that despite this, she is still choosing to remain in Manchester. "The plan is to stay, unless students are asked to evacuate the country."

She and most of her Singaporean friends "had not planned to head back during Christmas in the first place due to the uncertainties of flying and having to quarantine back in Singapore", she added.

Travellers from Singapore were added to the UK's travel corridor list last month, and they do not have to enter quarantine if they have not been in or transited through any other non-exempt countries in the 14 days preceding their arrival.

Second-year medical student Wong E-Shuen, who is back at the University of Aberdeen, said she is supposed to attend a number of clinical sessions on campus, as well as ward placements, which the university would provide more information on in time. "But we'll be wearing personal protective equipment during these sessions, so I'm not worried," said the 20-year-old.

Most lectures and tutorials are being carried out online, while meetings with patient-partners for medical students are also carried out via phone calls and virtually, she added.

 
 
 

Ms Wong said she has no plans to go home yet though "the cases do seem to be increasing".

"I was well aware of the situation before I came over," she said.

She has been planning her study schedule for online lectures and tutorials, cooking her meals in her apartment and using home delivery for groceries and other necessities to avoid going into shops too often.

University of Glasgow student Ng Weihan returned to Singapore in March.

The second-year student has not made plans to travel back to Glasgow as she "feels it is not quite safe to return as of now".

 

Ms Ng, 19, who is reading computing science and music, said she is glad to have avoided the wave of infections in her school and has heard of some of her schoolmates having to self-isolate.

But she said that remote learning has its challenges, adding that it is easier to handle her computing sciences classes online, though her music modules can be challenging.

"Online learning is tough, especially with the time difference, but I am coping well."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2020, with the headline 'S'porean students in UK wait it out amid new wave of Covid-19'. Print Edition | Subscribe