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Students urged to remain cautious over COVID

By Chen Meiling | China Daily | Updated: 2023-06-06 08:03

Graduating students prepare for the national college entrance examination, or gaokao, at a high school in Jiaozuo, Henan province, June 5, 2023. [Photo/VCG]

Students preparing for the upcoming national college entrance exam should monitor their health and keep in good physical condition as a new wave of COVID-19 hits the country, experts said. However, they added that the students should not be overly concerned about the virus.

Wednesday marks the beginning of the exam, or gaokao, which many students view as the most important assessment they will ever undergo, as the results often determine their education path and career.

A record 12.91 million students have signed up for this year's exam, up by 980,000 from 2022, according to the Ministry of Education.

This year sees the first gaokao after the management of COVID-19 was optimized. Local authorities have removed strict epidemic prevention and control measures such as wearing masks during the exams. However, some have issued notices reminding students to manage and monitor their health.

Beijing, which will hold the exam from Wednesday to Saturday, suggested those taking the exams enhance their health protection, avoid or reduce visits to crowded public areas and wear a mask if they have to, according to a notice released by the Beijing Education Examinations Authority. Examinees should also report to their school if they show symptoms such as a fever or a cough.

Shandong province has asked those taking the exam to monitor their health for three days before the test. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should contact local authorities and take the gaokao in a separate classroom, where mask-wearing is required.

Fujian province said that students won't be allowed to wear their own face masks inside the exam rooms, and if they choose to wear one, it must be provided by a supervisor.

Most people infected with COVID-19 in China were hit by the wave in December, but there have been increasing infections in May and June.

The infectious diseases department of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing said it had received 300 to 400 suspected cases a day recently, with 90 percent of those infected with COVID-19. This compared with 600 to 800 a day in December, said Yuan Lichao, a doctor at the department.

In the first half of May, most of his COVID-19 patients were young people who frequently engaged in social activities, followed by infected elderly patients. Few of the young people had pneumonia.

Yuan suggested examinees try to avoid contact with others and wear masks during their exams. "Most people have got used to face masks. The test rooms will offer air conditioning so they will not feel stuffy," he said, adding that if infected, students should see a doctor as soon as possible to control and ease their symptoms.

A Beijing mother, surnamed Han, said all her family members have had COVID. She said neither she nor her daughter, who is due to take the exam, was worried. "She performed well three years ago at the senior high school entrance examination when the epidemic was serious, and spent most of the time studying online after that. So she looks quite relaxed now, both about the test and the virus, at least on the face of it," she said.

Han and her daughter have moved into a hotel a week before the gaokao, to be in a quiet and healthy environment. Han's husband, who frequently travels for business, is taking care of their younger son at home.

Han said to cope with COVID-19, the family has developed good hygiene habits such as using serving chopsticks at home, wearing masks and frequently washing their hands.

Han said her daughter is sleeping well at the hotel, and even shot a vlog about her experiences.

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