Trapped in virus city


The Citizen (KZN) - - Front Page - Chi­som Jen­nif­fer Okoye jen­nif­[email protected]­i­

A South African teacher liv­ing in China be­comes a ‘para­noid germa­phobe’ since the out­break of the deadly coro­n­avirus, while Tem­bisa Hos­pi­tal, where 10 in­fants died last year, has been ear­marked as one of three lo­cal fa­cil­i­ties ‘equipped to as­sist with the virus’.

‘When you leave the house and go out you feel like it’s com­ing on to you.’

As China fran­ti­cally at­tempts to con­tain the new­est strain of the coro­n­avirus, a South African liv­ing in China says she has es­sen­tially be­come a germa­phobe anx­iously wait­ing for the night­mare to end.

This comes as the coro­n­avirus took China by storm when it was first de­tected in Wuhan, in the east of the coun­try, on 31 De­cem­ber last year.

Since then, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­eases (NICD), as of Sun­day the in­fec­tions have risen to 2 014, with 29 out­side of China.

One of the peo­ple caught in the mid­dle of the drama is a South African English teacher, who asked to re­main anony­mous as she waits for the Chi­nese and South African gov­ern­ments to re­solve the cri­sis.

She said al­though she lived in Shen­zhen, a city in the south-east­ern part of China which is a fair dis­tance from the epi­cen­tre of the out­break in Wuhan, she was still wor­ried be­cause her city had also seen a num­ber of in­fec­tions.

She said her para­noia about be­ing in­fected in­creased when she went to the lo­cal su­per­mar­ket in her city to buy a mask, only to find that they had sold out.

“I’m so para­noid I don’t even want to go out be­cause this ill­ness is air­borne. We are be­ing told to wash our hands con­stantly, even in our own apart­ments.

“And when you leave the house and you go out it feels like it’s com­ing on to you and you just get very para­noid.

“When you or­der take­away food, our apart­ment com­mu­nity has banned peo­ple from en­ter­ing the build­ing, so you have to go out­side and get your food and when you get your food you get para­noid that the disease is stuck on the plas­tic!

“I find my­self wash­ing the plas­tics and wip­ing ev­ery prod­uct that I have bought. I am su­per para­noid.”

She said she also felt like she could not go home be­cause the air­port was a pub­lic place so she could be ex­posed to the virus there.

She fears that sit­ting in a plane for 18 hours could also ex­pose her to the virus.

“I know some South Africans liv­ing in Wuhan had tried to reach out to Dirco [depart­ment of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and co­op­er­a­tion] and they were told they would not be evac­u­ated. Mean­while other coun­tries like the United States and France are evac­u­at­ing their peo­ple.”

2 014 Num­ber of world­wide coro­n­avirus in­fec­tions, as re­leased by in­sti­tute.

Pic­ture: Reuters

Pic­ture: AFP

TAK­ING PRE­CAU­TIONS. A man rides a bi­cy­cle and wears a pro­tec­tive mask to help stop the spread of a deadly virus which be­gan in Wuhan, on a empty road in Beijing yes­ter­day.

Pic­ture: EPA-EFE

WORLD­WIDE FEAR. An Asian tourist wears a pro­tec­tive mask in the cen­tre of Frankfurt Main, Ger­many, yes­ter­day.

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