A pair of Hong Kong students studying at a university in South Korea said they were kicked out of class when they showed up to a lecture wearing face masks.
The City University of Hong Kong (CityU) students have been on an exchange program at Seoul’s Sungkyunkwan University since February, according to Coconuts Hong Kong.
One of the students, surnamed Tong, told TV reporters back home that she and her friend wore the face masks to class in light of the recent MERS outbreak in South Korea, but were told by their lecturer to “get out” when they refused to take them off.
He said the students should not “bring sensitive feelings and emotions into [his] class and Korea”, Tong was cited as saying in reports.
The university initially explained that some staff members considered wearing face masks in class “disrespectful”, and that the two could be barred from classes if they continued to wear them. They were later allowed to wear the masks after CityU intervened.
Four new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome were confirmed today in South Korea, bringing the total number of infected people to 126. So far, 11 people in the country have died after contracting MERS and nearly 4,000 people have been placed under quarantine.
South Korean authorities are taking extreme measures to curb the spread of the breakout, and the government is reportedly actively tracking the the whereabouts of people who may have been exposed to the virus.
China, meanwhile, is also taking heavy precautions against the virus as a MERS carrier who managed to cross the border is now under quarantine in Guangdong province.
Earlier this week, a passenger on an Eastern Airline flight from Wuhan said that all eight Koreans onboard were escorted off by crew members and placed under isolation after the plane touched down in Kunming because they were suspected suspected of carrying the virus. It’s unclear whether they had exhibited symptoms of MERS.
Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to the City University of Hong Kong by the abbreviation CUHK, which is typically used for another university in the territory. This has been corrected.