Expats slam British government over unsatisfactory response to Wuhan coronavirus

Published:  7 Feb at 6 PM
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British expats’ anger over the UK’s unsatisfactory response to the Chinese coronavirus epidemic is growing day by day.

Given that the general opinion about Britain’s consular help for its overseas citizens is considered unsatisfactory on a good day, it’s no surprise that expat reactions in China are now bordering on fury after reading the UK government’s suggestions as regards leaving the heart of the infection. Many long-stay expats now have Chinese wives and young children, and have been left to decide whether they should attempt to find a way out of the country, leaving their families behind as the UK is refusing to allow family entries. As the rate of confirmed cases reached 30,000 and the death toll is now around 600, the UK reiterated it has no plans to evacuate those still at risk in Wuhan and the rest of China.

One senior consultant in Suzhou told local media he’d been planning to leave but is holding on as the advice given is totally unclear and doesn’t state the risks versus the benefits. Another long-stay Brit said many of the tens of thousands of UK expats in the city are riding it out as they’re too confused to make a decision. English teacher Deanna Holroyd said the government should understand it’s impossible to leave quickly under the present circumstances, saying she’d have to sub-let her apartment, withdraw her money from her Chinese bank account before closing it and pack up all her belongings. She first heard about the virus whilst she was on holiday in Thailand with just a small suitcase containing the essentials for a tropical island vacation.

Another British expat teacher was in the UK when the bad news broke, but returned to China nevertheless. In Suzhou, he said, life’s continuing much as normal although he’s already had a temperature check, and another Briton said he’s staying as it’s less risky than leaving. He’s well stocked up with water and food, so doesn’t need to go out for a few weeks. It would seem expats living and working in China have a far more practical grip on their options than does the British government and its consulates.
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