Portsmouth teacher, 24, living in China speaks of her experience amidst coronavirus outbreak
EMPTY streets, closed shops and the struggle to get answers from Chinese authorities is what a 24-year-old teacher has been experiencing amidst the coronavirus outbreak.
Eeffa Lodge from Portsmouth travelled out to Nanjing in China in September last year to take up her dream job of becoming an English teacher but with no end in sight of the virus outbreak, she has made the decision to return home.
The former Purbrook Park pupil told The News: ‘The atmosphere round where I live is one of worry I feel, the streets, malls and roads are empty and barely anyone ventures out, usually there are many people out on e-bikes or walking.
‘The city isn't in lockdown but the majority of companies and shops are closed and we have been advised not to leave our houses or travel. I got messages from the HQ of my company that they were extending leave and considering online lessons to not expose our students. Masks became mandatory on the train and even in my residential province posters and warnings have been put up.’
A post placed on her building complex asked visitors to discard used masks in designated bins and measure their temperature before entering the park. If an abnormal temperature was recorded they would not be allowed in.
It comes as the government have urged Britons to leave as coronavirus continues to claim more lives in the country.
Chinese authorities said today that the death toll in mainland China from the coronavirus outbreak has risen to 425, with the number of cases now standing at 20,438.The Foreign Office amended its travel advice after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he expects more cases of the virus to be diagnosed in the UK.
Eeffa has booked a foreign flight out of the country and will have to go through a health screening at Nanjing airport - the city is just over a six-hour drive from Wuhan and the Hubei province where the coronavirus has been most prevalent.
She said: ‘There definitely been a lot of animosity towards companies and to the Chinese government with how they are handling things. China is known for wanting to keep things under wraps, so getting information out of them is like pulling teeth as you are constantly blockaded with vague answers or deflections
‘Many higher-ups have no idea what to do with so many foreign and Chinese teachers. Many parents who don't want their kids returning to our schools.
‘I really loved the job but I feel the situation is out of my hands now. With no clear return-to-work date, and no news on pay or the situation I felt it was better to return home before it got worse or travel restrictions were placed on Nanjing.’
The Foreign Office has declined to say how many British nationals in Hubei province have come forward to say they wish to return to the UK - but the last flights out of Wuhan are expected to leave this week.
Mr Hancock added: ‘We haven't seen the peak of the coronavirus by a long stretch and we expect more cases in the UK.
‘We have a full plan in place to treat all those who have symptoms and test positively for coronavirus and we are working with international partners both to slow the spread and also to do the research that we need to do to find a vaccine.’
Two people, a University of York student and one of their relatives, continue to be treated for coronavirus in the specialist infectious diseases unit at Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary.
A total of 94 UK nationals and family members have been evacuated to Britain from Wuhan on two flights which arrived on Friday and Sunday.
One passenger was taken to hospital in Oxford after telling medics he had symptoms of a cough and a cold.
The rest of those who came back are currently in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.