‘We’d rather die at home than go to quarantine’ – a resident of Wuhan

Wenjun Wang is a resident of Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Ms Wang, a 33-year-old housewife, and her family have remained in the city since it was sealed off on 23 January.

Since then, the virus has infected more than 20,000 people worldwide, leading to at least 427 deaths.

In a rare interview from inside Wuhan, Ms Wang has told the BBC about her family’s heart-breaking struggle for survival.

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Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, my uncle has already passed away, my father is critically ill and my mum and aunt have started showing some symptoms.

The CT scans shows their lungs are infected. My brother is coughing too, and has some breathing difficulties.

My dad has a high fever. His temperature was 39.3C (102F) yesterday and he’s constantly coughing and having breathing difficulties. We got him an oxygen machine at home and he relies on that machine twenty-four seven.

He’s taking both Chinese and Western medicines at the moment. There’s no hospital for him to go to because his case hasn’t been confirmed due to the lack of testing kits.

My mum and aunt walk to the hospital every day in the hope of getting a bed for my dad despite their own health situation. But no hospital will take them.

‘No one is helping us’

In Wuhan, there are many quarantine points to accommodate patients who have slight symptoms or are still in the incubation period.

There are some simple and really basic facilities there. But for people who are critically ill like my father, there are no beds for them.

My uncle actually died in one of the quarantine points because there are no medical facilities for people with severe symptoms. I really hope my father can get some proper treatment but no-one is in contact with us or helping us at the moment.

I got in touch with community workers several times, but the response I got was, “there’s no chance of us getting a bed in the hospital”.

Medical staff members wearing protective clothing accompany a patient as they walk into a hospital in Wuhan
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus crisis a global health emergency

We thought the quarantine point my dad and uncle went to was a hospital at the beginning, but it turned out to be a hotel.

There was no nurse or doctor and there was no heater. They went in the afternoon and the staff there served them a cold dinner that evening. My uncle was very ill then, with severe respiratory symptoms and started losing consciousness.

No doctor came to treat him. He and my dad stayed in separate rooms and when dad went to see him at 06:30 in the morning, he had already passed away.

‘We’d rather die at home than go to quarantine’

The new hospitals being built are for people who are already in other hospitals at the moment. They are going to be transferred to the new ones.

But for people like us, we can’t even get a bed now, let alone get one in the new hospitals.

If we follow the government’s guidelines, the only place we can go now is to those quarantine points. But if we went, what happened to my uncle would then happen to dad.

So we’d rather die at home.

‘The infected population is huge’

There are many families like us around, all facing the same difficulties.

My friend’s father was even refused by staff at the quarantine points because he had a high fever.

Resources are limited yet the infected population is huge. We are afraid, we don’t know what will happen next.

Wang’s message to the world

What I want to say is, if I knew they were going to lock down the city on 23 January, I would have definitely taken my whole family out, because there’s no help here.

If we were somewhere else, there might be hope. I don’t know whether people like us, who listened to the government and stayed in Wuhan, made the right decision or not.

But I think my uncle’s death has answered that question.

Courtesy: BBC