Blocked tolls, closed stations and airports, and thousands of people locked up in a city. Wuhan, affected by the coronavirus epidemic, has been under quarantine by the authorities since Thursday. French expatriates who have not been able to leave the agglomeration tell us about this bleak situation, which they fear will continue.
Amélie was to travel in the coming days. In Wuhan for 4 and a half years for her studies, the girl swapped her vacation for long days at home because of her quarantine. "I spend my days at home watching movies, I have nothing else to do," she says, taken aback by the situation. "A few days ago, we did not expect it to take on such proportions," says the student.
"The only information we are missing is how long it will last"
If her loved ones are worried, Amélie sticks to the instructions to avoid any contamination. She received prevention messages from her university, and even from her telephone operator. "Everyone wears masks, I limit my outings to the maximum, I only go out to buy provisions," says the student, who describes streets emptied of its inhabitants. “I did the shopping yesterday, people rushed to the supermarkets to stock up on supplies. There was no more meat and almost no more vegetables ”. Failing that, Amélie supplied herself with rice and pasta.
Frédéric and Stéphanie were luckier. They left Wuhan for Shanghai a fortnight ago. Relieved to be gone, they are nevertheless instructed to keep their surgical masks. “The period is special because we are starting the Chinese New Year holidays. Some managed to leave, others did not, ”said Frédéric, who works at Peugeot-PSA. One of their friend, Laetitia thus got stuck with her family.
"We stocked up on food"
In China for 5 years with her husband, a French automotive subcontractor based in China, and their son, she had to leave the city to go on vacation. “When we learned that the airport was closed it was too late to go on vacation as planned. So we chose to stay home. It is certainly the safest place for us. And then leave, how, by what means and were we going to be safe? Far too risky in fact, ”says Laetitia. Also facing shortages, the family made arrangements. “We stocked up on food and water to last at least two weeks. Afterwards we will advise, ”she explains calmly.
Far from panicking, the family takes things with "a smile". “The hardest part is for children who find it difficult to stay locked up. After we are in winter and the weather is rainy, ”she tempers. If she believes she has been sufficiently informed, a stranger remains whole. "I would say that the only information we are missing is how long it will last," she slips.
The French authorities, for their part, claim to have set up “a specific and permanent mechanism for monitoring and responding to the concerns of the French […] through the crisis and support center of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, in coordination with the French Embassy in Beijing and all of the Consulates General in China, ”reads the website of the French Embassy in China. An emergency number has also been created: 85 31 20 10 (from Beijing), 10 85 31 20 10 (from mainland China)