The first case of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Republic of Ireland was confirmed last Saturday 29 February. The patient was said to have travelled from an affected area in Italy where, according to The Guardian, 1835 cases and 52 subsequent deaths have been confirmed.
The confirmed case in Ireland is a male who attends Scoil Chaitríona in Glasnevin, Dublin 9. The school is on its second day of a two-week closure as a result of the confirmed case of the virus in an attempt to prevent it from spreading.
The virus originated in the Wuhan region of China. China has since had approximately 80025 confirmed cases.
Stephen, an Irish national who was working as an English teacher in Beijing, returned to Ireland at the start of February in an attempt to distance himself from the outbreak of the virus: “When I told my bosses I would fly back, they agreed it was the best for my safety”.
“A lot of places were shut, streets were almost empty”. Acquaintances of Stephen who also live in Beijing and are citizens of the EU have returned to their homelands as a result of the virus.
“The atmosphere was pretty oppressive there, so I was glad to get away”.
Flights are limited but available and Stephen envisages returning to Beijing in late March or early April in order to “account for potential quarantine situations” and partly because he says he’ll “go mad living at home for much longer”.
“The government are hesitant to put a date on it, and all dates provided by employers and educational institutions are tentative at best”.
In China, the government has advised people that unless you are returning from an affected area, it is unnecessary to quarantine yourself for the prescribed 14 day period. Stephen identifies a serious issue with this measure “is that local communities are following their own way on it, often telling people or, in some extreme cases, forcing people to quarantine for 14 days”.
In these forced quarantine situations, “security will bring your grocery deliveries to your door and take your waste away” so you can comfortably stay in your home.
“On the surface, Chinese people appear to be trying to be positive and supportive of the government”. However he says that the flow of information from the Hubei province and Wuhan city “has been heavily restricted”.
According to Stephen “work stability and ensuring they are treated fairly by employers” are areas of serious concern for the people of China at the moment. Due to unsustainable business models, “once the cash stops flowing in, the whole thing screeches to a halt and begins to fall apart”, leaving many without a source of income until the coronavirus outbreak ends.
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(Names have been changed due to the individual’s wish to remain anonymous in order to protect his visa)