Longford native caught up in coronavirus nightmare

Kevin Forde

Reporter:

Kevin Forde

Email:

kevin.forde@longfordleader.ie

Christopher Courtney is a Longford man who has been living in China for three years, who explained to us the impact coronavirus has had on the country. 

Christopher Courtney, a Longford native living in China for the past three years, has been caught up in the Coronavirus scare sweeping the country, with the Longfordian pretty much confined to life in his apartment for close to two weeks. 
Christopher first moved to China back in 2017. 

He explained: “I have been living in the city of Chengdu in the Sichuan province in the southwest of China for three years now. 

“I came here in February 2017 as part of an English teaching and Mandarin learning programme.

It was the loss of employment back home which proved the catalyst that spurred Christopher to make the big move. 

He said: “I saw an ad somewhere for a ‘teach and learn’ programme in China.

“It was a short six-month programme and I thought it might be fun, so I left that year in early February.

Although thoroughly enjoying the experience in China, the Sichuan University student’s life has been severely impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak sweeping the country. As a result of the virus, he has been more or less confined to the safety of his apartment for the past two weeks. 

He stated: “Since the outbreak started last month, things here in the city and all over China have become very tense.  
“The worst of the outbreak is where it began in Wuhan, in the Hubei province. The vast majority of infections are coming mainly from that province.

“In Sichuan, as of Monday morning (February 10) there have been 386 confirmed cases of the outbreak since it started and of those 386 people, sixty have recovered and one has died.” 

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Though Christopher conceded the situation is a lot more serious in Wuhan, he admitted to high levels of stress caused by the ordeal, before praising government officials for their work in trying to control the virus.

“The Government has done a very good job in their efforts to contain and control it.

“In Wuhan, the Government managed to build a hospital for 10,000 patients in less than a week to help treat the infected which is very impressive. 

“Everywhere in China, places like schools, universities, museums, and other tourist attractions such as bars and restaurants, have been closed to help prevent the spread of the virus. Several flights in and out of China have also been cancelled to prevent it spreading more globally

“For the past two weeks, my partner and I have pretty much stayed in our apartment only leaving to go to a local store to buy food or collect takeaways. A lot of restaurants have closed but luckily we can still have meals delivered so we can still eat.”

Christopher explained some of the knock on effects the outbreak has had throughout the country.

 He said: “Across the country, many or perhaps all apartment buildings are under a strict entry and exit routine. Anybody who doesn't live in our complex can’t enter and anytime we need to leave the complex to go to the shops or supermarket, our temperatures are checked. 

“Public transport is still running as normal throughout the country with the exception of where the virus broke out, as trains and planes in and out of the Wuhan and Hubei province have been cut off.

“Everywhere else buses, metros, taxi's, planes and trains will not allow you to board unless you are wearing a protective mask. Supermarkets and even small stores have also refused entry to people who were not wearing protective masks.

Christopher explained that there are also a number of sources on hand, which offer regular updates on the virus. He noted his optimism of the outbreak being halted. 

He said: “There are several resources and apps available for people to keep up to date on what is happening around the country with the virus with provides safety tips, prevention measures, infection statistics and general advice in both Mandarin and English.

“The spread of the virus and the fact that the number of people becoming infected is getting higher every day is a concern, however, looking at the figures it does seem that the rate of infection is getting lower and the number of people recovering is far greater than those who have died from it.

“In Ireland, I can see that luckily there are no cases of infection and everywhere outside of China that has reported cases of infection, seems to have a rate of less than 1% compared to China.”

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