A Swansea woman is refusing to quit a coronavirus-hit Chinese city and come back to Britain.
Carys Davies, from Gorseinon, Swansea, lives in Hangzhou, China, after moving out there to work as a teacher in 2017. She said she returned there from a holiday in Japan to be faced with the “apocalypse” and has since been holed up at her apartment for two weeks as the authorities fight to contain the spread.
The death toll from coronavirus, which originated at a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has now surpassed 1,300, claiming even more lives than the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak which swept Asia in 2003. There are now more than 60,000 confirmed cases across China.
But Carys, 25, has refused to evacuate and board a plane back to the UK, even though people with coronavirus have been moved to her city, which is in Zhejiang Province, from Wuhan.
She said: “When I came back from holiday in Japan, it was like being placed in the apocalypse.
“We had 36 people diagnosed with coronavirus in my district and on Tuesday we were the second worst for the virus - they are sending all the people from Wuhan to my city, which is why the figures are so high in the ranking.
“When we had Sars my city coped with it the best, so they have decided to send everyone here. We have had two new cases in Hangzhou today and the total in my city is 159, with 36 cases in my district.
“I have not been allowed out today and we are not allowed to go outside without wearing a mask.”
She said empty streets and police crackdowns on the movement of people had ensued following the arrival of coronavirus.
But she added: “It’s not that bad, there’s been less than 40 cases here. We were the second worst hit and now we are the fourth.
"I am only allowed out every two days because they are trying to restrict people in the streets. When we started to get quarantined I forgot to wear my mask once and the security guard shouted at me, they are pretty on point now and they are taking it very seriously here.
“You get your temperature checked when you go out and come back into your apartment. The way they are dealing with it here is that everyone is working together.
“If you go out without a mask on the police look at you as if you are going out of your way to harm someone - the whole of China is stopping this from spreading.”
She said she had only ventured into the compound outside her apartment as she attempted to alleviate the boredom at being unable to live her day-to-day life.
Forced to teach her kindergarten pupils at Origin Children’s House in Hangzhou through WeChat, she admitted China could have reacted quicker to coronavirus.
“The way they are treating the virus now is as if they could have done stuff sooner,” she said.
“The mayor of Wuhan (Zhou Xianwang) has said he was going to step down because he dismissed it - they tried to keep it quiet.
“When they realised it was trouble they did something about it, they could have done things quicker - when they started shutting down the rest of the world should have been on board as well.
“This has impacted on the Chinese economy - my district is like a ghost town.”
She said that as soon as the authorities were aware of people with the virus they were immediately reacting to the situation now.
“My boss lives in the same district as me, someone from his apartment travelled before to Wuhan and became ill,” she said.
“They sent out an ambulance outside the block and they started arriving in Hazmat suits.
“One member of the family had it and others were suspected to have it - they took the whole family and removed them from the block.
“There was also a girl who had cancer and the army took the child out of Wuhan to a different city, the mother just wanted her out of Wuhan, which is completely understandable.”
She said she had been keeping a close eye on advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the wake of the virus and said the idea of heading home on a plane with others gave her greater concern over the health risk than remaining in her apartment.
Carys said she was concerned that the initial reaction by the British Government over the health crisis was at odds with the WHO.
“The British Government has done such a bad job, they removed people from Wuhan the day before Brexit. The WHO advised people to stay put," she claimed.
“We can probably get to an airport but if I was in contact with people with the virus it could spread in planes and more people could be infected.
“I feel safer in China primarily because I have self-quarantined myself and I have listened to what they have said.
“Even the British Government said there is a low risk of catching this virus outside of Wuhan - more people have died of the flu.
“It’s been two weeks that I have been inside my apartment for now - it’s going to be another two weeks until I go back to work - I do not want to be sick.
“I only ever go for a walk around the compound and never leave the main gates. I get food delivered on my phone and it arrives 30 to 40 minutes later, the security does all the swabs. I will get a phone call from the delivery guy. I go to the lobby and see the security guard who always checks it - I don’t come in contact with the delivery man.”
She added: “I haven’t walked down the street - if a policeman sees you walking the streets they will ask you where you are going.
“There are some schools that are not running this term at all.
“I have a friend living in the West Lake district and usually there are thousands of people who are working there and people who travel from all over China to see this lake.”
She said in China there had not been hysteria over coronavirus and that authorities had been open about its cause.
“They said it’s come from bats and it’s going from animals to people,” she said.
“People see eating bats as eating pork or a cow but it’s definitely not a common thing - I have seen people eating tarantula and snakes.
“It’s fast moving, it’s very contagious, they do not know if it’s going to mutate.”
She said she had seen a massive change in people's views on food hygiene since 2007.
“I work in a bilingual school and all the teachers tell the children in Chinese and I tell the children in English about food hygiene - the kids think it’s awful to eat bugs.”
She said the racial abuse targeted at some Chinese people around the world in the wake of the outbreak and the way in which coronavirus was being treated differently to the occurrence of H1N1 in the US, which spread there following an outbreak in Mexico in 2010, had upset people.
“Nobody blamed the Americans for H1N1,” she said.
“Everyone is blaming the Chinese and are not looking at how this happened - the people are horrified, they are very proud people and they are trying so hard to be viewed like people in the US and are trying to shake the view of a third world country.
“The Chinese do not have access to Facebook but it does not mean they do not know what is going on, I have seen the racist comments and it’s really uncalled for.
“People are reading articles from the rest of the world and they are insulted by the racist remarks that are being made.
“They want to be involved with the world as they have been closed off for so long - they are trying to integrate themselves.”
She has not seen her friends for a fortnight since the crisis.
Carys with her father Andrew Davies at the Great Wall of China
“My mother and father have said it’s just safer to stay put - if I was to move there is more chance of getting it,” she said.
“I wanted to stay because my life is here, I have a job and I have an apartment and I have a cat.
“I have spent three years in China, the people have been loving and so kind.
“I have never met so many kind people, they want to involve you in their culture - to leave would mean if I was to tell my kids at the kindergarten that Carys was running away.”