Teacher makes tough call to leave China as virus spreads

Nelson Mail - - Front Page - Samantha Gee [email protected]

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.