31st Jan

Today I woke up to news bulletins, messages from home and conversation in the flat about the increased spread of Coronavirus. The new that the World Health Organisation had now declared the situation a Global Health Emergency also filtered through to us, this was extremely alarming. I had slept relatively well but even with a fresh head, all of this varying news and rumours was certainly a lot to try and process. Knowing what is true and what isn’t is extremely difficult. There are all sorts of stories about the Cornonavirus flying about, everything is up for debate; the source, how many victims, where those cases are, the incubation period and how the virus can be passed on. News then started to filter through about airlines possibly cancelling flights in the coming days, something which was immediately alarming. Coronavirus has reached Hefei, and there are a number of cases in the city, the actual figure was unclear but it certainly made things a lot more real.

With all of this information, I decided to book a flight to the UK for the 3rd of February and just try to get out of China as quickly as possible. It didn’t take long to find a flight, this one via Warsaw. Ten minutes and £370 later the flight, train hotel were booked. I would be leaving Hefei in two days.

This brought real positivity to the flat. Although Coronavirus was getting nearer and increasing in cases, we’re still laughing it off a little and joking about it. You have to I think, otherwise it would really start to drag you down. We we’re all in good spirits and watching some films whilst keeping one eye on our phones for updates. The positive mood was soon interrupted by a notification announcing that Coronavirus had been confirmed in the UK.

Two hours after I had booked my flight home, two cases of the virus had been discovered in the UK. This along with the information from the foreign office that anyone returning from China should self quarantine for two weeks upon arriving home really added fuel to the fire. The messages we were recieving increased dramatically and the various news stories false and true were like a constant stream of scaremongering and worry. But, I was flying home in a few days, I could relax.

21.56 pm.

Dear Passenger, flight LO 92 on Feb 3, 2020 has been cancelled. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Inconvenience. Definitely inconvenient, I could think of a couple of other words to describe it. The text was greeted by an outburst of laughter by the three of us, it was a clear mixture of emotions. On the one hand the whole thing appealed to my sense of humour, of course the flight had been cancelled, did I really think it was going to be that easy to leave. On the other, I had very much got used to the idea that on Monday I would be at home and now had no idea how or when I would be able to leave. The idea of leaving anytime soon seemed almost impossible, not only had my flight been cancelled, but airlines around the world had announced they would not be flying in or out of China until at least the 10th of February.