The Chinese embassy has distributed 12.7 tonnes of medical supplies – dubbed as ‘health packages’ – to international students stuck in Manchester.
Students said the health packages contained disinfectant wipes, face masks, and herbal medication to combat the symptoms of COVID-19. The first shipment arrived on April 4, and distribution of supplies began on April 6.
The herbal medication came in the form of Lianhua Qingwen capsules – a traditional remedy for the alleviation of typical influenza symptoms such as fever, coughing, a runny nose, and muscle aches.
Alongside the supplies, the packages included a letter addressed to the students, detailing the efforts of the Chinese government to provide aid to students abroad.
A final year Sociology and Linguistics student in Manchester, who chose not to be named, said that receiving a health package and the enclosed letter made her feel “less uncertain and more at ease”.
Manchester’s Chinese Student Society has formed a group of volunteers helping to organise, pack and distribute supplies from China.
Volunteers were reportedly dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE) to give out the packages to students who applied on WeChat, the Chinese social media platform.
Distribution points included University of Manchester’s George Kenyon Hall as well as the following private student accommodation buildings: Sir Charles Groves Hall, Vita Student Circle Square, Liberty Heights, and Orient House (Uncle). The Mancunion reached out to the above-mentioned residences to ask if they were aware the distribution was taking place, but received no reply.
WeChat posts from the Chinese Student Society also appear to show officials from the Chinese Consulate-General volunteering at the warehouse, helping with unloading, organising, and packing.
Social media posts also revealed that future distributions would be taking place soon, with several shipments on their way to the UK from China.
Manchester Consul General Zheng Xiyuan was interviewed by the Chinese Student Society about the distribution of health packages. He said it was in line with the request of Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese Ambassador to Britain, to “distribute health packages to each student as soon as possible”.
Mr Liu recently gave an online speech addressing Chinese students in the UK. He said the Chinese government was greatly concerned about the safety and health of those studying in the UK, adding that it was of great importance to China to continue co-operation with Britain to combat the virus.
A recent surge in flight prices and flight cancellations to China and previous travel restrictions to certain parts of the country have meant that many students abroad have found themselves unable to return home during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Health packages have also been distributed around the world in areas with large numbers of Chinese international students, including cities such as Los Angeles, Singapore, and Madrid.
The Mancunion has contacted the Consulate General, the Chinese embassy and the University of Manchester for comment.