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A "campus guardian" battles new coronavirus wave in Beijing

19 May 2022

© Provided by Xinhua

BEIJING, May 19 (Xinhua) -- For the last three weeks, Zhao Zhengyan has been guarding against COVID-19 at a Beijing University of Technology campus in Chaoyang District, one of the areas of China's capital hit hardest by the latest resurgence.

A new wave of COVID-19 infections began in the city on April 22, leading to the closed management of the campus.

Zhao, 40, is a student supervisor in the university's Faculty of Environment and Life. She had been away when the outbreak began, but rushed back to the campus and has been fully engaged in COVID-19 prevention and control work since April 26.

"As a student supervisor, what I was worried about the most was my students. And I came right back to let them know that I am here with them," she said.

Upon returning, Zhao went straight to visit her students in their dormitories to record their health data and distribute fruit. She has also been tasked with accompanying students to hospitals when needed and giving online classes on COVID-19 prevention and control.

"It was a stressful time for all of us at the very beginning as parents and students were anxious, and not all of the faculty members were eligible to return to the campus in line with the preventative measures. But we explained this to students one by one, helping ease their anxiety," Zhao said.

In addition to serving the students in her charge, Zhao also works as a volunteer, assisting with mass nucleic acid testing on campus and distributing masks and other daily necessities to people.

"At this critical moment, everyone at the university has been united, and even the faculty members who were unable to return to campus managed to do their bit online," Zhao said.

She is one among many who juggle multiple tasks day and night to protect all students on campus from the virus.

"Through weeks of relentless efforts by the entire university, the students now feel relieved and have started their online learning," she said.

While confronting the tough situation on campus, Zhao said she feels sorry for her 12-year-old son.

"I stay put on campus these days and can't go back home to see my son. He hugs my pajamas to sleep when he misses me," she said. "But returning to school and helping my students are also my responsibilities."

Zhao's devotion to the students has brought her gratitude in return. An unnamed student messaged her to say, "Thank you so much for your hard work," and to tell her that she has warmed their heart.

Beijing had reported more than 1,200 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections by Wednesday afternoon in the latest resurgence of the virus. It had classified 15 areas as high-risk for COVID-19 and 32 as medium-risk.

"During the SARS outbreak in 2003, I, as a college student, volunteered to join the fight against the epidemic, and I am sure that we will win the battle again this time," Zhao said.

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