Norovirus Outbreak in Chinese College

October 9, 2020 Updated: October 9, 2020

Around a hundred male college students in China suddenly started having diarrhea and vomiting earlier this week.

Despite reports of widespread poisoning, the school at the Wucheng campus of Shanxi University of Finance and Economics did not provide any information to the students about the incident until the evening of Oct. 8, when it briefly confirmed a Norovirus infection through its official Weibo account. It said that all students on the sixth floor of a dormitory building had been put in isolation because of the outbreak, but isolated inside their dorms.

A student, who did not want to be identified, told The Epoch Times that on the evening of Oct. 6, the boys inside the dormitory started to vomit one after another. Almost all students on the sixth floor exhibited vomiting symptoms, the student said. And more serious cases had also emerged in another dormitory block. They had also been put in isolation, with the school delivering food to them.

The students had been notified of the isolation by class leaders through group chats on social media, which also instructed them that anyone who had returned to the dormitory could only go to the bathroom on the sixth floor, The Epoch Times was told. No one was allowed to leave the sixth floor and students were required to disinfect the dormitory themselves by wiping all the tables, chairs, and beds with disinfectant bleach.

The student also revealed that the school did not reveal to the students the number of infections, and only allowed them to go to the school’s clinic for treatment. Students were also not informed as to what tests were performed by the clinic and their test results. No students were hospitalized, the student said. Eventually, other floors of the dorm building began to report infections. The student estimates that there were about 100 people experiencing symptoms.

On Oct. 7, the school announced it had decided to suspend all classes. It is still unknown when classes will restart.

According to the student, the university only allowed students three days off for the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, which is supposed to be eight days according to regulations. Like other universities in mainland China, the Wucheng campus has been under lockdown since school started this fall. Students have not been allowed to leave campus. However, teachers and people living in faculty housing are allowed to move on and off campus grounds.

The student complained, “The school has been in lockdown since September. Students either eat in the school cafeteria or order takeout, which can only be picked up through the school fence. Teachers and staff, as well as people in the nearby faculty housing, can come and go freely, and the university has done nothing about it.”

The student also said, “I don’t know how long the class will be suspended or when the quarantine will be over … The school should not keep students in the dark. We’ve already put up with the shortened holidays. Now that this matter comes out, people are panicking. Who dares to trust the school administrators anymore?”

The Epoch Times found that many students were afraid of talking to media about the incident, fearing that the school would retaliate against them and prevent them from graduating. The Epoch Times reached out to the university for comment but received no reply.

Gu Xiaohua contributed to this report.