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Under quarantine in Wuhan: 'I haven't left my apartment in six days'

29 January 2020 12:26 PM
Tags:
China
SARS
Coronavirus
Wuhan
Amy Pitiway

'They risked their own lives and dropped off food for us' relates SA teacher living in the centre of the coronavirus outbreak.

Hundreds of foreign nationals are being evacuated from Wuhan, the centre of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The death toll has topped 100 as the new strain of the virus spreads across China and to at least 16 other countries.

CapeTalk's Kieno Kammies speaks to Amy Pitiway, one of a group of South Africans teaching English in Wuhan, who's been living there for the past eight months.

She describes how the situation's escalated since they were first alerted to a Sars-like virus in December last year.

They said there was a virus very much like Sars and the schools started doing house checks with our students, giving out hand sanitizer and heat monitors.

Amy Pitiway, South African teacher in Wuhan

We were kind of on alert about it but we still had school. It was only in the last week that things really went downhill. We got a call saying school was cancelled and that holiday would start early.

Amy Pitiway, South African teacher in Wuhan

The next day we heard that all flights out of Wuhan were going to be stopped... The next day we heard that all the [transport] stations were closing.

Amy Pitiway, South African teacher in Wuhan

They were basically telling us: Get into your houses and stay there.

Amy Pitiway, South African teacher in Wuhan

Pitiway says at this point she's afraid even to venture out onto her balcony.

It's very, very traumatising. I haven't left my apartment in six days.

AmAmy Pitiway, South African teacher in Wuhan

We get notices on our lifts that they're going to bleach the floors every three hours.

Amy Pitiway, South African teacher in Wuhan

If I want to walk around the park for fresh air I can't do it because I need to wear a mask and goggles and stay away from people. so it's just not worth it.

Amy Pitiway, South African teacher in Wuhan

Although the young teacher is stuck in her apartment, she says she's fortunate to work for a company that is assisting teachers, at the risk of being infected themselves.

The management in our company actually risked their own lives and dropped off safety masks for us and some food.

Amy Pitiway, South African teacher in Wuhan

She says the South Africans living in her apartment building feel even more isolated because notices from the health authorities are written in Chinese and they have to rely on Google Translate to try and figure out what's going on.

They basically suggest: Stay inside, don't have contact with anyone, keep hygienic so wash your hands, wash your clothes if you do go outside and if you have any symptoms go to hospital. That I'm too scared to do because if I go to hospital with just a simple flu I can contract this virus.

Amy Pitiway, South African teacher in Wuhan

She says she relies on her support system - she talks to her mother on the phone for a few hours each day and also has contact with a number of other South Africans living in her apartment building who aren't fellow-teachers.

The South Africans had a competition the other day where we made sports out of blankets. That's how we're keeping ourselves entertained.

Amy Pitiway, South African teacher in Wuhan

For more on coping with life under quarantine in Wuhan, take a listen:




29 January 2020 12:26 PM
Tags:
China
SARS
Coronavirus
Wuhan
Amy Pitiway

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