Mon | Jun 1, 2020

Jamaican in China hunkers down as virus travel fears soar

Published:Saturday | February 1, 2020 | 12:21 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Airport employees wear masks as they work inside the Sao Paulo International Airport in Brazil Friday. Passengers and airport workers are voluntarily wearing masks as a precautionary measure amid an outbreak of the coronavirus that started in China.
Airport employees wear masks as they work inside the Sao Paulo International Airport in Brazil Friday. Passengers and airport workers are voluntarily wearing masks as a precautionary measure amid an outbreak of the coronavirus that started in China.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Currently on day 10 of a lockdown in her apartment, a Jamaican teacher in China says she has made an informed decision to stay put, although there have been several calls for her to return home amid a coronavirus outbreak in the Asian country.

Ashley Thompson, who resides in Zhengzhou, Henan, 510 kilometres (316 miles) from Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, said that she made the decision based on her belief that no airport in China would be immune to the virus at this time.

“I would have to take a cab to the airport; that would be contact number one,” she said, adding that travellers would be extremely vulnerable at airports and on planes.

She expressed concern that she would be forced to stop in Beijing or Shanghai for another two to three hours where hundreds of cases have been reported, before travelling to “the United States on a 13-hour flight breathing in the same air with people who are possible cases, followed by detention and quarantine by the military there for 10-14 days”.

More than 200 people have been killed by the virus in China.

Thompson revealed that while some Jamaicans are under complete lockdown and experiencing food shortages and inaccessibility to stores, this was not the case in her home town.

“In my city, there is a partial lockdown. This means that businesses are still closed. However, people can be seen moving about,” Thompson told The Gleaner. “Supermarkets are still open and stocked. In the event that I do need to venture outside to restock my supplies, I am at liberty to do so.”

The hospitals in Zhengzhou are flooded with confirmed and suspected cases, but Thompson is convinced that with limited contact with infected persons, she is more likely to remain coronavirus-free.

Admitting that the situation was terrifying, Thompson said that her heart went out to fellow Jamaicans who were facing life-and-death choices.

“I would be lying if I say I’m not scared, but now is not the time to panic and make uninformed decisions,” she stated.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com