An Irish teacher living in China says the lockdown system in Wuhan has been effective as shopping malls, restaurants and shops re-open after seven weeks of quarantine.
Katie Hayes, a kindergarten teacher from Cork, has been self-isolating for almost two months with her mother and sister in Harbin in the north, around four hours by plane to Wuhan.
The 27-year-old told Cork’s Red FM that China is starting to come out of the coronavirus crisis and encouraged people to have faith in the lockdown system, claiming “it does work”.
“It’s been a long, long, looong seven weeks,” RSVP Live reports.
“But it’s getting a lot better. Today is the first day that malls, shops and restaurants have opened again. We can go out of the complex now everyday, there’s no monitoring of our movements.
“Secondary schools and universities will probably open around the third week of March, but kindergartens won’t be open until maybe the middle of April”.
In total, China has had more than 80,000 confirmed cases and suffered over 3,000 deaths. But the country is finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
The last 24 hours saw just 13 new cases (a stark contrast from Italy’s 4,207) which Katie says is down to foreigners bringing the virus back to China.
“We had 198 confirmed cases in Harbin, and now we have 178 treated so once the confirmed and treated match up we’ll be virus-free.
“Nationally, the numbers are reducing, but in the last week, there’ve been foreigners coming into Beijing and Shanghai and they have brought back the virus with them.
“I read online that from tonight onwards anyone coming in from any country to China has to be self-quarantined for 14 days. Before, it was only for affected countries like Italy, Japan, Korea but now it’s for anywhere outside China.”
So just how did China manage to turn themselves from the epicentre of the coronavirus, with several thousand new cases per day at its worst, to near total eradication? According to Katie, the answer is simple: Lockdown.
“Ireland needs to shut the country down, otherwise it’s going to spread faster,” Katie advised.
“Harbin had 198 cases but for the last two-three weeks we haven’t had any new cases so lockdown does work, it is working and it has worked. There’s proof of it here in China.”
In China, all citizens are required to use an app that tracks their location at all times. Now, before entering a store, a mall or any business, citizens scan their phone on a QR code located at the entrance, that checks if they have been out of the country over the past 14 days and gives them a green or red tick for entry.
“People need to realise that if you put the country on lockdown it’s actually ok. It’s not going to do damage. To keep the elderly and vulnerable people safe, going on lockdown is the best thing you can do.”
The debate as to whether face masks do more harm than good has been continuing since this epidemic emerged. The HSE have repeatedly advised that face masks are not necessary for people who are healthy.
In contrast, Chinese people have been known to wear masks for even the earliest of cold symptoms, ever since the SARS epidemic swept through the nation in the early 2000s.
“All my Chinese friends have been asking me ‘why are people abroad not wearing masks?’.
“I’m reading online that supposedly they don’t work and you can still get sick if you wear a mask.
“In China, we have to, legally, wear masks. If we’re seen walking around the place not wearing any masks, we can get arrested and put in 14-day quarantine or jail.
Katie was also clear to point out that while her country is right to be commended for stopping the spread of the virus so quickly, the world should not forget that the virus originated in China by consuming wild animals.
Katie said while the eating of wild animals has since been banned in certain Chinese cities, the world shouldn’t forget how this mess started to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.