UK coronavirus chaos leaves expats wishing they’d stayed in Wuhan

Published:  13 Apr at 6 PM
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Many British expats who fled Wuhan when the pandemic erupted now wish they’d stayed put.

As the scary news of the coronavirus outbreak hit the international media and China began its lockdowns, many expats living and working in Wuhan headed back to the UK as quickly as possible, either under their own steam or via evacuation flights involving last-minute scrambles to get to the airport in time. All the UK’s repatriated citizens were forced into quarantine for two weeks, watching in horror as the virus began to take its toll on British residents.

As things got worse and the UK’s response began to stutter, many returnees began to wish they’d stayed in China. One Briton had been on a visit to his girlfriend in Wuhan and had just been offered a job as an English teacher when the panic began. He decided to return to the UK, but regrets his decision as he’s now working as a truck driver and sleeps in the vehicle in case he catches the virus and infects his grandparents at home. If he’d stayed in Wuhan, he’d be now coming out of the lockdown rather than going into one in the UK.

Another British expat who’d been living in China with his mother and Chinese wife when the outbreak began is now in lockdown in his home town of Knutsford. His take on returning is that the family had jumped from the kettle into the fire, as they’d never believed the UK’s pandemic would be as severe as it now is, nor the government's reaction so chaotic. He’s certain the family made the wrong decision, as the UK’s slow reaction to the spate of infections meant those arriving from other hard-hit regions weren’t even quarantined. Basically, he wished they’d stayed in China but, at the same time, he’s happy to be back in the home country.
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