British man in coronavirus-hit Wuhan describes life on lockdown

7 February 2020, 18:24

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A British man living in the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan has described what life is like living on lockdown.

Steffan Atherton, 47, is currently staying in Wuhan with his Peruvian wife and their two-month-old son.

Mr Atherton, from the Wirral, described to LBC News how despite the depletion of food resources, Chinese citizens still "follow the rules" and nobody is "taking advantage of the situation."

He said: "At the moment we're on lockdown, we've been told to stay indoors. The streets are empty.

"The Chinese people are very determined, they're very disciplined people and law-abiding people and they're not forced to stay indoors, but when the government gives out an order to stay in, they tend to follow that very strictly.

"The streets are fairly empty. We've been given information about leaving your apartment. They suggest that one member of the family leaves the apartment, goes to the market to get your stuff and come back."

Mr Atherton explained that the advice he had received was to get a minimum of two days worth of supplies each time he went out.

"People are following the rules, there's no exploitation, there's no one taking advantage of the situation. It's quite remarkable to see to be honest," he added.

Mr Atherton said the "streets are empty" in Wuhan
Mr Atherton said the "streets are empty" in Wuhan. Picture: LBC News

"The new advice we got in the last day is about containing yourself and not necessarily having to go to a hospital. The idea is self-containment."

The 47-year-old said he had received positive news from the Home Office who are organising a visa for his wife.

However, he also expressed concern with letting people make their own way back to the UK as it would mean "bypassing any quarantine regulations."

He added: "I went out yesterday to the supermarket, I'm only going to the local supermarket on a moped, it seems to be the quickest and safest way to do things.

"The local McDonald's is open so that's another fast way of getting food safely.

"We were in the mini-market yesterday and I noticed the bread had run out.

"Food does seem to be getting limited and restricted in certain ways, but I don't know if that's through design or through problems with the food chain."

Meanwhile, in the UK the third coronavirus patient is thought to have caught the illness in Singapore as authorities warn those travelling from Thailand and Singapore to self-isolate if they begin feeling unwell.

As the outbreak continues to deteriorate in China, the global death toll has reached 636, with the number of confirmed cases rising to 31,161.

Some 260 cases have been recorded outside China.

The UK Foreign Office has advised Britons in the country to leave if they are able to.

More than 80 UK citizens and family members who were the first to be quarantined at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral have been told they can leave next Thursday.

The group are spending 14 days in isolation but will be released next week as long as they remain symptom-free.

Additional reporting from Thomas Dunn.