Writing: HANBAOTING, LUJINGJING
Editing: LIANGZHIXI, WANGBOHAN
(Photo By: Lu Jingjing)
KUALA LUMPUR, 22 Dec- In a season usually marked by fun and parties, students at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia find themselves encountering a very different reality this Christmas. A recent surge of COVID-19 cases was caused by the JN.1 strain has caused a major change in their holiday plans.
The Malaysian Ministry of Health reported a worrying increase in COVID-19 cases, with 3,626 new infections during the 47th epidemiological week, a 57.3% increase from the previous week. This surge in cases is due to the highly infectious JN.1 variant, which has also affected UKM students.
For many students, the outbreak has meant that their Christmas plans have been cancelled or completely changed. Li Mu, a Chinese international student at UKM, recounts her experience: "I got infected with COVID-19 around December 15 and had a fever with severe discomfort. Although I recovered, the after-effects meant that I was unable to celebrate Christmas as planned, as I was still very weak. "
Wu Xiaojiao, a Chinese international student facing a similar situation, added: "I am still struggling with a low-grade fever and cough. It's disappointing that I won't be able to join my friends for the Christmas celebrations, but I have to prioritize my health, so I won't be going to the festivities this year."
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has not only posed a significant threat to people's health but has also exerted great psychological pressure on their psyches. Many people, fearing that going out to celebrate Christmas may expose them to the risk of infection, have given up the opportunity to travel during the Christmas holidays. Choosing to stay at home has, in turn, heightened their feelings of nervousness and anxiety.
Li Xiaoming, another student at UKM, expressed his concerns, saying, "I think this virus is very powerful. Eight Chinese students in my class have been infected in just two days, and we are all feeling very scared now. I am now preparing protective measures against the virus, such as wearing a mask when I go to public places, disinfecting my hands and my clothes with alcohol every day when I go home, and not going to public places easily."
Another student, Zhang Xi, a Chinese international student from UKM's media programme, echoed this sentiment: "The rising number of cases made me nervous about attending any festive events. I've decided it's safer to stay at home.
Despite the challenges from COVID-19, UKM students share a common understanding that this Christmas, although different from previous ones, is only a temporary phase in the battle against COVID-19. With a spirit of optimism and resilience, they look forward to the future and believe that they will soon get through this difficulty. As the year draws to a close, everyone is looking forward to a return to normal life and the opportunity to celebrate together in the years ahead.