Monday 24 February, 2020

“We’re scared”: Trinidadian in China speaks on virus quarantine

People line up to buy face masks from a medical supply company in Nanning in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. (Chinatopix via AP)

People line up to buy face masks from a medical supply company in Nanning in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. (Chinatopix via AP)

A Trinidadian teacher stuck in China said she and other Trinis are scared but are trying to remain strong after an outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) lead to quarantines and reports of food shortages in some Chinese cities. 

Speaking to Loop News under the condition of anonymity, she said they are in communication with the Trinidad and Tobago Embassy in Beijing, which has tried to assist them with any concerns.

Many cities have encouraged people to set up a system of self-quarantine and Chinese officials have limited travel to and from Wuhan, the city where the virus was first reported.

The woman, who resides in Jiangxi, said the place looked like ‘something out of a horror movie’. Video footage showed empty city streets and bare shelves in supermarkets.

(Video: Video footage taken in Wuhan China earlier this month showing empty streets and food shortages. Video via Storyful)

“Although I’d like to say I’m fine, in reality, it’s like a horror movie here in China. It’s a scary time for us foreigners here as we are all alone, and because of our language barrier it’s worse.”

She said she is reassured by the Embassy’s efforts but she is worried as to when they will be able to return home.

She said she is communicating with four other Trinidadian nationals also based in China and they are trying to provide moral support for each other.

She said sadly, her employer has not been very supportive.

“There is literally no one to assist if you fall sick here…our employer shows no sympathy. As a foreigner you have to figure out a way to find yourself to a hospital,” she said.

She said she has only been teaching in China for three months to date, and her knowledge of Mandarin is limited.

She said food supplies are also limited.

When the news came out about the virus the supermarket shelves were left with nothing except rotten potatoes. Shelves are being restocked but most places are closed due Spring Festival Holidays,” she said.

Several countries have evacuated their citizens from China or are planning evacuations including the US, Japan, Germany, France, Spain, and the UK. 

Living in fear, longing for home

She said she does not have any signs of the virus but nevertheless she despairs of seeing home anytime soon.

“It’s a scary time for us foreigners here as we are all alone. My other Trini friends have been crying and living in fear each day as we are being faced with the Coronavirus.

“Everyone keeps telling us and me to just book a flight and return to Trinidad but it’s not that simple. We have to think about so many things, travel restrictions, transit visas, quarantines, suspended flights.

“I know our Embassy has a group chat and has been trying their best to forward as much information as possible,” she said.

She made it clear however that she was grateful for the assistance provided by the Embassy and the Chinese government in their efforts to control the spread of the virus, and said she hopes that the situation can be brought under control soon.

“I know everyone is facing the same struggle of surviving through this pandemic…but maybe if it was dealt with earlier it would not have reached to this stage,” she said.

Government said it would not be admitting any travellers from China into the country unless they went through a 14-day wait period.

According to the CDC, the virus takes approximately 14 days before symptoms are apparent.

About the coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

This virus probably originally emerged from an animal source but now seems to be spreading from person to person.

Patients with 2019-nCoV have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. Many patients had pneumonia in both lungs.

At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses at https://bit.ly/2uW0y2X.

There is currently no vaccine to protect against 2019-nCoV. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

There is no specific antiviral treatment for 2019-nCoV. People with 2019-nCov can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.

Prevention measures

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. There are simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.

These include:

- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

If you were in China within the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should get medical care.

Call the office of your health care provider before you go and tell them about your travel and your symptoms.

They will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. While sick, avoid contact with people, don’t go out and delay any travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others.

Emergency contacts: 999, 811

More information on nCoV here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html

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