Londoner now living in China fears COVID-19 virus
LONDON, ONT. -- A former Londoner, now living and teaching in China, has been self-isolating to prevent catching COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus.
Jason Bird says he returned to China last week, after a trip to Vietnam, and found the airport basically deserted.
Those he did see were taking extra precautions, even going as far as wearing plastic bags over their heads.
"Everybody is out with masks, gloves and I even saw someone wearing swimming goggles," says Bird, when talking of people trying to avoid catching the virus.
Monday morning the World Health Organization (WHO) provided the latest update on COVID-19, confirming close to 1,800 deaths.
"In the past 24 hours, China has reported 2,551 new cases, which includes both clinically-confirmed and lab-confirmed cases, says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general.
"Ninety-four per cent of new cases continue to come from Hubei province. Outside China, the WHO has received reports of 694 cases from 25 countries and three deaths."
Bird has taught in China for the past 14 years, after living in London from 1990-2006. He is in the northern part of the country in Liaoning province, and though he is far from the epicentre, his area is locked down.
"All schools have been closed indefinitely and there is no timeline on when they will open," says Bird, who has heard it could last between one to four months. "The town I live in is small, and it’s like a ghost town. I just came from Beijing airport just two days ago, it was very eerie. I've never seen it like that before."
He has been self-isolating, and only leaving his apartment complex on rare occasions to stock up on supplies at the supermarket.
He says he was a little afraid, and went shopping wearing glasses, winter gloves, a mask and a scarf. "I was in the supermarket and saw people with no gloves, picking things up and putting them back," says Bird. "That is why it is spreading so quickly. I won't be going out for at least another week."
He has assured his parents in London that he is in no immediate danger, unlike a friend of his who is quarantined near Wuhan, China. He is just treating his lockdown like an extra vacation, and hopes to be back to work as a teacher as soon as possible.