Published: 28th April 2020
Three months ago, this student from Delhi barely escaped COVID-struck China. Now he doesn't know when he can return
A film studies student in Beijing Film Academy, Dev Kumar had come to Delhi in the beginning of January for his holidays
Three months back, the world was only beginning to hear about the novel Coronavirus. All eyes were fixed on China, as the number of COVID-19 cases spiked up in the country and its cities went under lockdown. On January 24, around 26 people had died in China and around 900 were infected. That was when we first spoke to Dev Kumar. Hailing from Delhi, he is a film studies student at the Beijing Film Academy and had come home at that time, for a pre-planned vacation.
"My parents keep on telling me how lucky we are. I got to go home at the right time," he then told us. He also told us about how he had planned of going back to China by the end of February when things get back to normal. His initial plan was to return on February 13. However, nothing went according to his plan. By February, the virus had spread to other parts of the world. It crossed borders, seas and continents in weeks and within no time, affected all the countries in the world. At the time of writing this story, 2.97 Million people are infected by the virus. It had wiped 207,000 people off the planet. A lot of countries, including India are under lockdown.
Three months later, we decided to talk to Dev again. He is still home in Delhi and hasn't gone back to China. "The airports here are closed, the lockdown is in place and I heard from the Chinese authorities that the visas of all the foreigners stand suspended," he says. Beijing, the city where he used to live has now slowly restarted normal life. AFP reports that on Monday, thousands of students had returned to classes, amid fear of the virus's second wave. "My friends constantly call me, asking me to come back. They now go out and eat in restaurants, like the old days. These are the people who stayed back, despite the pandemic outbreak," he says. Dev's college too has restarted its classes online. "I attend online lectures these days. However, not everyone gets to attend it properly. My classmates are all from various places and there's often a clash of time zones," he says.
Dev had previously told us that his older brother was stuck in China and was trying to get back to India. "Thankfully, he got back home. His flight was thrice cancelled, but the fourth time, he was lucky. Now, our entire family is staying together in our house in Delhi," he says. "I was working part-time in Beijing. Now, I work from home for the same company, even though they want me back there. But there's no way to get back now," adds Dev.