/Coronavirus crisis: Australian expatriates in China describe how disease has changed their lives – Daily Mail

Coronavirus crisis: Australian expatriates in China describe how disease has changed their lives – Daily Mail

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Australian expatriates in China say almost every aspect of their lives now revolves around the coronavirus outbreak.

So far, the disease has killed over 1,600 people and infected about 70,000 people globally, including 15 people in Australia. 

The epicentre of the virus, Wuhan, remains almost entirely cut off from the outside world as authorities try to halt its spread. 

Daily Mail Australia spoke with Australians who are currently stuck in Shanghai, some 1,000kms away from Wuhan.

Despite the distance between the cities, the virus has had detrimental impacts across the entire country, leaving people confined to their apartments and unable to eat out or attend work or send their children to school.

The usually busy streets of Shanghai are basically deserted at the moment, as people remain indoors due to the rapid spread of coronavirus

The usually busy streets of Shanghai are basically deserted at the moment, as people remain indoors due to the rapid spread of coronavirus

The usually busy streets of Shanghai are basically deserted at the moment, as people remain indoors due to the rapid spread of coronavirus

Pictured: Danny Chen in his mask

Pictured: Danny Chen in his mask

Pictured: Danny Chen in his mask

Danny Chen, an Australian-born Chinese man working as an online stock trader in Shanghai, said at first he didn’t appreciate the significance of the virus.

‘At first it felt like the virus was a thorn in our side where we just had to take some precautions, but now it feels like our life revolves around it [the virus],’ he said.

Mr Chen moved to China to care for his 97-year-old grandmother, who is suffering from late stage breast cancer.

He knows he won’t be returning to Australia any time soon, despite safety concerns. 

‘I need to go to the hospital to fetch medicine for my grandma every few weeks and I also don’t want to unknowingly bring an infection back to my parents in Australia and put them at risk,’ he said.

‘My life in Shanghai today is completely different to my life a month ago. Daily life is disrupted across all levels both directly and indirectly.’

Mr Chen keeps all outdoor activity to a minimum.

But when he does go out, there is now a long list of steps he ticks off before opening the front door. 

‘When I do go out I have to make a lot more preparations. I bring only my phone, I wear my face mask, my gloves, a few layers of clothing to ensure no skin exposure and my hoodie to cover my head,’ he said. 

‘When I return, I have to thoroughly disinfect everything and wash whatever I was wearing right away. It’s an annoying process, and something I have go through even if I’m just throwing out the garbage downstairs. 

‘All avenues of outdoor entertainment are no longer possible and eating out is not advised.’ 

In addition to the potential social and health implications, Shanghai-based Australian photographer and writer Dave Tacon said the financial blow of the quarantine has been – and will continue to be – devastating. 

Shanghai-based Australian photographer and writer Dave Tacon (pictured) said the financial blow of the quarantine has been devastating

Shanghai-based Australian photographer and writer Dave Tacon (pictured) said the financial blow of the quarantine has been devastating

Shanghai-based Australian photographer and writer Dave Tacon (pictured) said the financial blow of the quarantine has been devastating

Pictured: Food covered up in a mostly empty Shanghai market as people remain indoors for their own safety

Pictured: Food covered up in a mostly empty Shanghai market as people remain indoors for their own safety

Pictured: Food covered up in a mostly empty Shanghai market as people remain indoors for their own safety

‘A lot of my work is commercial photography and video production. This work has completely evaporated along with a few client meetings I had lined up,’ he said. 

‘Besides international industry supply chains, the lock down here is impacting pretty much all aspects of the economy including small business owners.

‘A lot of shops where I live in Shanghai remain closed and the restaurants that are open are practically empty.’

Mr Tacon knows of families who escaped to Bali or Thailand before entire provinces were placed into quarantine, but admits they won’t be able to survive there long.

The food markets are mostly closed with only a few stalls open to sell the essentials

The food markets are mostly closed with only a few stalls open to sell the essentials

The food markets are mostly closed with only a few stalls open to sell the essentials

‘Many of them must be thinking ”this is killing my business, I’m hemorrhaging money, when is this going to end?”,’ he said.

The photographer could have returned home to Australia but opted against it when he learned his fiancee, who is a Chinese citizen, couldn’t join him.  

‘We’re catching up on movies and TV series and cooking at home. She was lucky to be able to return after Chinese New Year from her hometown in Zhejiang, which borders Shanghai and is one of the provinces worst hit after Hubei. 

‘She caught the last bus out not long after the first cases were discovered there. Her town is now effectively cut off from the rest of China.’ 

Pictured: Casey Hall wearing her mask as she steps out in her deserted street

Pictured: Casey Hall wearing her mask as she steps out in her deserted street

Pictured: Casey Hall wearing her mask as she steps out in her deserted street

Mother-of-three and fashion correspondent Casey Hall said the worst part of the experience for her family is that her children have been stuck indoors since January 24. 

She said two of her three girls, aged five, three and one, have celebrated their birthdays since the lockdown began. 

‘The main thing is the kids not being able to go outside. They have not been at their kindergarten or preschool since January 24 and we’ve been given no guidance as to how long they will be home for. 

‘Their outings are basically a trip to the fruit shop, but they have to wear a mask and, for the baby especially, that’s pretty impractical.’

When they return home to their apartment building, officials check their temperature to make sure they’re not running a fever, which is a telltale sign of the coronavirus. 

‘It’s difficult to be living in limbo, not knowing when it’s going to end.’ 

Hugh Bohane is an Australian freelance journalist covering Asia.

AUSTRALIANS WITH THE CORONAVIRUS

NEW SOUTH WALES: 4 

January 25

  • Three men aged 43, 53, and 35 who had recently travelled to China are confirmed to have contracted the disease.
  • Two flew in from Wuhan while the other arrived in Sydney from Shenzhen, south China.
  • They are being treated in isolation at Westmead Hospital and are in stable condition.

January 27 

  • A 21-year-old woman is identified as the fourth person to test positive for the illness in NSW.
  • The woman, a student at UNSW, flew into Sydney International Airport on flight MU749 on January 23 and presented to the emergency department 24 hours later after developing flu-like symptoms.
  • She is being treated in isolation at Westmead Hospital.

VICTORIA: 4

January 25

  • A Chinese national aged in his 50s becomes the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in Australia.
  • The man flew to Melbourne on China Southern flight CZ321 from Wuhan via Guangzhou on January 19.
  • He is now in quarantined isolation at Monash Hospital in Clayton in Melbourne’s east.

January 29

  • A Victorian man in his 60s is diagnosed with the coronavirus.
  • He became unwell on January 23 – two days after returning from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. 
  •  The man was confirmed as positive on January 29 and was subsequently seen by doctors at the Monash Medical Centre. He was assessed as being well enough to stay at home.

January 30

  • A woman in her 40s is found to have coronavirus. 
  •  She was visiting from China and mostly spent time with her family.
  • She is being treated at Royal Melbourne Hospital.          

February 1

  • A woman in her 20s in Melbourne is found to have the virus

 QUEENSLAND: 5

January 29

  • Queensland confirms its first case after a 44-year-old Chinese national wass diagnosed with the virus.
  • He is being treated at Gold Coast University Hospital.

January 30

  • A 42-year-old Chinese woman who was travelling in the same Wuhan tour group as the 44-year-old man tests positive. She is in Gold Coast University Hospital in stable condition.  

February 4

  • An eight-year-old boy has been diagnosed coronavirus. He is also from the tour group where the other Queensland cases came from    

February 5  

  • The case was found in a 37-year-old man, who was a member of a group of nine Chinese tourists in quarantine on the Gold Coast

February 6

  • A 37-year-old woman has been diagnosed with coronavirus from the same travel group that flew to Queensland from Melbourne on January 27

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: 2

February 1

  • A Chinese couple in their 60s who arrived in Adelaide from Wuhan to visit relatives are confirmed to have coronavirus.

CHINA: 2

January 30

  • Two Australians have been confirmed as having the virus in Wuhan itself. Australia has raised the travel alert level to ‘do not travel’ for the city of Wuhan – the epicentre of the outbreak – and for the entire Hubei province.
  • Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says unless people have contact with someone who is unwell and has come from that part of China, there is no need for current concern. 

JAPAN: 15    

  • As of February 15, 15 Australians are among 219 confirmed cases of the coronavirus contracted on board Diamond Princess cruise ship at Yokohama.