Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Fear and Anger Among Americans in China

Well, I'd be mad too --- especially at myself for winding up in the China dumpster in the first place.

At LAT, "Americans evacuating Wuhan, China, clear health screening and head to California":
BEIJING —  A plane evacuating 201 Americans from the Chinese city at the center of the coronavirus outbreak arrived in Alaska and continued Wednesday to Southern California after everyone aboard passed a health screening in Anchorage, where the aircraft had stopped to refuel.
The plane was the only way out of the besieged city of Wuhan in Hubei province, and Americans clamored for seats.

A couple with a 7-year-old daughter did not receive the coveted call. A 65-year-old man’s phone rang, but he gave up his spot because others needed it more.

There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to who was tapped by U.S. officials to board the flight early Wednesday whisking them away from Wuhan, the epicenter of a respiratory virus outbreak that has killed more than 130 people in the last two months.

For a week, Wuhan has been under lockdown, with no transportation out of the city, as Chinese officials desperately try to keep the new coronavirus from spreading.

The inland city of 11 million, a university and business hub often called the Chicago of China, has become a cauldron of fear, stress and boredom, with overwhelmed hospitals, empty streets and isolated residents afraid to be in the same room with close friends.

It is unclear how deadly the virus is or how easily it spreads. Most reported cases have occurred in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province, and most patients elsewhere had recently traveled there.

But the tally of fatalities and confirmed cases, as well as the virus’ geographic reach, has increased daily, prompting the U.S. State Department to recommend that Americans avoid traveling to China. Some airlines have begun restricting flights out of the entire country, not just Wuhan.

For expatriates in Wuhan, many of whom teach English at universities and language institutes, the crisis is especially disorienting.

Many are not fluent in Chinese and worry about communicating if they go to the hospital. They share anxieties and questions with each other on WeChat and Facebook forums. On Wednesday, one man posted that he lost his temper at a Walmart cashier who rummaged through a quilt he had just bought, potentially spreading germs.

Americans still stuck in Wuhan have received no word about any future government-sponsored flights. Some are angry at U.S. officials for not doing more to help.

State Department officials could not be reached for comment.
Still more.