All’s well in Beijing despite Coronavirus spread

by Ben MacDonald

With CNN reporting today that Coronavirus has now killed 2,000 people worldwide, little is known about how British nationals living in China are dealing with the illness.

The UK Government has not given notice to Brits to leave the country, however people are advised to depart, with commercial flights between the two countries still in operation. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have also advised the avoidance of non-essential travel to the People’s Republic.

Chloe Sandilands, a BA (Hons) Musical Theatre graduate at the University of the West of Scotland’s Ayr campus, currently teaches English in Beijing and has enjoyed her time in the country. She said:

“I love China. Beijing is such a great place to live. It’s a city steeped in thousands of years of culture and history, but it’s modernised too. Everything is far more convenient than back home. Everything’s open late and everyone is so friendly. I have friends here; I have a boyfriend here and I have a life here. I love what I do and I love my kids, I don’t want to leave my students either.”

Sandilands discussed how civilians leave their accommodation but are required to wear a mask at all times. People must undertake temperature checks and registrations at their apartment buildings, before entering housing areas and on the subway.

Restaurants in the city also insist on checking temperatures and require visitors to leave telephone numbers. Customers have to sit in groups of three at a table as larger parties are prohibited as a way to stop the spread of the virus.

There are conflicted views on social life in the capital. Some people won’t leave their apartments and have quarantined themselves. Others feel bored and jump at the chance to go out.

Ms Sandilands lived with four people, and always felt that there was always someone to talk to, however two of her flatmates left during February, only providing 24 hours’ notice. As the group had been together for five months Sandilands found the split hard. She takes solace in the fact that her boyfriend still takes the time to visit her although he works in a hotel that cannot close their doors, even though there are no guests.

Schools remain closed and teachers have not received a definite date were they are allowed back in class. Sandilands discusses how she and 27 other teachers at the school are responsible for around 150 students a week, and that the prospective danger that her and her colleagues would be under if an infection is passed around. To combat this, teachers have began teaching online Ms Sandilands felt was a learning curb but it’s she enjoys the fact that she can see that her kids are safe and okay, and she knows that they will come out stronger for this hardship.

With it being reported that over 200 people have tested negative for coronavirus in Scotland, it looks unlikely that the virus will infect as high a number of people in this as what has occurred in China. For people like Ms Sandilands however, the opportunity of getting back to living a normal life may take a while to come into fruition.

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