Travel Trouble

Australian student shares update from inside Wuhan amid coronavirus outbreak

Australian student shares update from inside Wuhan amid coronavirus outbreak

A university student has shared what life under lockdown in Wuhan was like amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

Australian National University student Helen Chen has been unable to leave the city of 11 million people after she travelled in to celebrate Chinese New Year with her family.

Speaking in a video distributed by Reuters, Chen said she has not left her parents’ apartment since around a week ago.

“There is literally no one outside. It’s pretty scary,” she said.

“The last time I went out was probably a week ago, I think.

“I wore a mask, most people were wearing masks and when my parents went out this morning to do groceries they wore masks as well.

“I made sure that they brought hand sanitiser and they wore gloves just to be extra careful.”

Chen said she was keeping busy by doing her university assignments while her father watched the Australian Open on TV.

She also noted the ways people had responded to the outbreak.

“Times like this sometimes bring out the worst in people as I have seen a lot of comments online but there are also good people around,” she said.

“A lot of people are donating food and people are volunteering to drive doctors and nurses around … Sometimes we forget that there are just wonderful people out there who are willing to put themselves at risk of infection, and possibly even death, to help others.”

In a Facebook post shared on Tuesday, Chen shared another update on life in the city.

“We have enough fresh produce at home for a couple days since my parents went out again yesterday morning on a grocery run,” she wrote.

“Most smaller neighbourhood supermarkets are closed but bigger designated supermarkets are open and the apparently the [government] is making sure they get multiple deliveries every day and prices are kept as per normal.

“We’re more or less living our life like how we normally would, apart from the anxieties of infection and not being able to go out. But it’s all pretty mild stuff compared to what people directly involved are feeling. I do acknowledge I am speaking from a place of privilege, and my personal experience might not be the perfect reflection of the situation in Wuhan.”

Chen also addressed the seemingly racist comments on social media which laid the blame on Chinese people for forgoing health and safety concerns. “I’ve seen reports of incidents where selfish individuals have knowingly put others in danger,” she wrote.

“But again, it’s unfair to insist that they are an accurate reflection of Chinese people in general. Most of us are doing our part by respecting the quarantine, staying home, wearing masks when we really do have to go out, and donating in any way we are able to.”

The coronavirus has so far taken more than 120 lives and infected more than 5,900 people in China.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday the federal government will try to evacuate “isolated and vulnerable Australians” in China and take them to Christmas Island for quarantine.

More than 600 Australians had confirmed to being in Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marisa Payne advised Australians to avoid visiting the province and reconsider their travel plans to China.