Government must rescind its decision and bring back Zambian citizens living in China in light of the deadly Coronavirus outbreak, says Zambia National Students Union (ZANASU) president Misheck Kakonde.

Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Joe Malanji announced that Zambia was currently not considering the evacuation of its nationals in China as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak because government was confident that the Chinese authorities were doing everything possible to contain the viral disease.

The death toll from the Coronavirus outbreak has escalated to almost 300, and a confirmed case in Tibet meant that it had reached every region in mainland China.

The first death out of China has also been recorded in the Philippines.

Commenting on the development, Kakonde said government must not rely on measures implemented by their Chinese counterparts to tackle the disease, but take urgent action to avoid any Zambian national falling sick.

“If the students themselves and the Zambian people staying in China feel that they should come back, why not bring them back? It means they are the ones that understand the situation better rather than uttering sentiments to the media that ‘they are safe.’ And away from that, they should not trust a word from the Chinese government unless there are measures that have been put in place and verification has been done. People are dying everyday! I have seen some videos of the students saying that they are better off coming home. It is just a matter of government putting in place the right measures and ensure that it protects its own citizens from this disease,” Kakonde urged.

“We feel government can always rescind their decision and be able to analyze the situation so that they understand the situation from the ones that are affected. I believe government is able to take care of those Zambians. I think through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, something prudent can come out and ensure that they protect citizens; after all, it is tax payers’ money!”

He urged Zambian students studying abroad to have a back-up plan and not rely on government when there was an emergency.

“My encouragement is that those that are studying from that side, they must be able to engage in good planning and if possible help themselves out of that country. It is not all the time that government should help, because when you are going for studies abroad, you must be able to have your own back back-up plan. Of course, we understand that when there is an emergency, government can help, but also citizens as well can help. If you are able to come, there is no problem, you can get on a plane and find yourself in Zambia,” said Kakonde.