Teacher makes tough call to leave China as virus spreads
Nelson man Iain Bremner has quit his job in China and plans to return home due to the spreading coronavirus outbreak.
Bremner, who has been teaching English at a university in the city of Xi’an, made the difficult decision to leave his job last week. He said his family were concerned about his welfare.
‘‘It wasn’t an easy decision – I love it here. I just feel putting my life at risk wasn’t fair on my son or my mother.’’
Xi’an is just under 800 kilometres from Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Bremner said he had fears about the level of hygiene in local hospitals if he was to catch the virus. He said Chinese hospitals could be ‘‘pretty scary at the best of times’’.
‘‘You can get good drugs and you can get good care – I’ve seen amazing equipment in some of the hospitals – but the standard of hygiene . . .
‘‘You have these Third World conditions existing very close to all this modern infrastructure.’’
Bremner has been living in China for two years. He said he loved living in Xi’an, which had a rich history, but it was surreal to be in a city of 12 million people that had all but closed down.
For the last few weeks, he had spent most of his time confined to his apartment, with most residents choosing to go out as little as possible. He was able to head to the supermarket and university campus – but each time he did, his temperature was taken.
‘‘You can’t get into your house without being checked. It is pretty scary, like a sci-fi movie. There is a certain surrealness to it all.
‘‘My mate and I went out and played a bit of basketball the other day. We just couldn’t handle it any more.’’
His contract was until June, and he said he would not have considered leaving before then had the outbreak not occurred.
‘‘The supermarket is pretty busy. People are stocking up because noone knows how long this is going to last for.’’
He said the Chinese people had been stoic and brave during what was a scary and difficult time. While many were fearful and frightened, they were not panicking.
‘‘Everyone is pretty scared. I think it has gone from a feeling of frustration . . . to being quite sincerely worried.
‘‘I haven’t seen anything other than co-operation with authorities. Everyone is just trying to work their way through this.’’
He said it had been difficult to get information about what was going on in China, but he hoped to fly back to New Zealand within the next week.
So far, more than 1370 people have died from the virus, with nearly all the deaths occurring in mainland China.
It is believed that the number of people infected has risen to about 45,000 across the globe, with the vast majority of cases in mainland China, CNN has reported.
Since February 3, foreign nationals who travelled from or via mainland China in the past 14 days have been refused entry to New Zealand, while Kiwis have been asked to quarantine themselves for two weeks upon return. In that time, at least 5600 New Zealanders and permanent residents have returned from mainland China.
There have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New Zealand. Evacuees flown from Wuhan to New Zealand are still in quarantine at a Defence Force base in Whangapara¯ oa, north Auckland.
‘‘I love it here. I just feel putting my life at risk wasn’t fair on my son or my mother . . . It is pretty scary, like a scifi movie.’’ Iain Bremner
Nelson man Iain Bremner has made the decision to quit his job teaching English in Xi’an, China and move back to Nelson amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. He says it is surreal to be in a city of 12 million people that has all but closed down.
Every time he leaves his apartment in Xi’an, 800km from the epicentre of the outbreak, Bremner has his temperature checked before he can return. He says the Chinese people have been stoic and brave during a scary and difficult time.