This morning we awoke to the news that Coronavirus has been discovered in a neighbouring community in the city. New live maps are now freely available to view here showing updated locations of discovered cases as they happen. Its feels rather similar to the red cross on the door during the great plague, but in modern day instead of a red cross you get a red pin dropped on a live map.
Following this already unsettling news, I received information from my airline suggesting that all flights out of China would be cancelled until the end of February, not ideal when the virus is now literally just over the road. I decided to immediately contact the embassy in the hope that after many failed attempts to gain some useful information, they might be able to help me in some way. After a short phone call, I was given a list of Airlines still currently operating out of China which is something at least, other than that there is no new information for UK citizens in China unless you are in the Hubei province, (the neighbouring province to us, of which Wuhan is the capital). The official advice from the UK Foreign office remains, “Leave China if you can”.
A list of Airlines leaving China was a really useful piece of information, I began searching for flights to the UK and anywhere in Europe that I would be able to catch in the coming days. Quickly I found a direct flight to London from Shanghai, a direct flight would mean less risk of being stranded somewhere and facing the large possibility of being quarantined in a foreign country. I began the booking process whilst James worked on getting me a train to Shanghai from Hefei, a relatively straight forward trip home was filling me with relief.
That was until just moments before I pressed confirm payment. James had found that no trains were leaving Hefei for Shanghai and in fact, there are now no trains travelling from Hefei to either Shanghai or Beijing. This problem, perhaps naively, didn’t even cross my mind when looking for a way back, I just assumed I would be able to travel city to city here, not anymore. The internal transport systems across the country have now been suspended. I had a flight ready to book, but with no way of getting to the airport it was absolutely useless.
For those that were following the blog live and are perhaps wondering where it went: I took the decision to take the blog offline after some advice regarding a citizen journalist who has gone missing after reporting about the Coronavirus outbreak without licence. As it now seems I will be here longer than planned I don’t want to risk any possible trouble so I will be updating the blog whilst I am here and putting it back online upon my return.