A University of York student from Skipton has spoken out about racism towards Chinese students in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. 

Nick Lunn, 23, a physics student, said: "If you go through university pages on Facebook there is a clear racial sentiment.

"People don't feel comfortable around them [Chinese students] and it's not right.

"I've seen some people look genuinely scared around a Chinese student wearing a mask."

On Saturday it was confirmed that a student from York is one of the two people infected with coronavirus.

University of York bosses said they understand the development "will cause concern and anxiety".


Bosses at the university said the risk of infection was "low" and the student did not come into contact with anybody on campus while they had symptoms.

Another student, Chay Quinn, 21, from Dartford, Kent, is the editor of the York Vision student paper.

He said: "I hope this isn't used a platform to marginalise Chinese students.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Two women wearing face masks leave the Staycity Hotel in the centre of York. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA WireTwo women wearing face masks leave the Staycity Hotel in the centre of York. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

"They already feel like they can't engage with the rest of the student population."

He added he felt the university didn't inform students as quickly as they could.

He said: "I wish they would have told us sooner because we needed to know.

"PHE need to let us know why it's a low risk so we can understand and calm down.'

The University’s coronavirus incident response team has held further discussions with senior colleagues in Public Health England.

PHE’s analysis of the situation, combined with the university’s own internal investigations, confirmed that the diagnosed student was not on campus or in student accommodation for the period before they were exposed to the virus.
The diagnosed student was not on campus or in student accommodation after being exposed to the virus.

York Students have said they suspected the infected student had returned to the UK from China for a graduation ceremony last month.

Pharmacies in the city were running low or sold out of infection-fighting medicines and people have been wearing masks.

Alexander Torbuck, 21, from Elstree, Hertfordshire, is studying health economics.

He said: "Personally I might avoid classes for a while. 

"There has been some suspicious activity as a professor had come back from Asia recently and had a high fever. 

"It's all worrying especially how quickly it spreads. 

"It feels a little close to home that it's happened here."

Gary Xi, 28, a PhD student from Beijing said he had a graduation ceremony on January 25, and was worried about a lack of information.

He said: "We don't know if we could all get infected from there and there isn't any information. 

"I just worry that those of us that went to the graduation are at risk."

Nick Lunn, 23, PhD in physics, from Skipton in North Yorkshire said students were scared.

He said: "There is a certain amount of fear among students. 

"It's been noticeably quiet around here. 

"People are afraid because there's so much uncertainty and we are predisposed to be this way."

Siqi Hu, 19, an archaeology student from Beijing said he was "not surprised at all".

He added: "I knew this could happen but at least I have prepared. 

"Many others now need to take care of themselves and they're panicking. 

A spokesperson for the University of York said: "Our immediate concerns are for the affected student and family, along with the health and continued wellbeing of our staff, students and visitors.

"We are working closely with NHS services and Public Health England who are taking the lead in responding to the case. The University is required to follow their direction in all matters related to this situation.

"The University continues to operate normally. We are monitoring the situation closely and we continue to provide as much advice, care and support as we can to our University community.

"If people have any concerns about their health in relation to suspected coronavirus we ask that they follow current PHE advice and contact NHS 111."

The University has set up a call centre for anyone who has any further concerns or inquiries. The telephone number is 01904 809571.

Additional information and any updates, as they are made available from PHE or any other health service, will be posted on our coronavirus updates webpage here: https://www.york.ac.uk/alert/.