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Act now to stop virus, says Bermudian in China

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A Bermudian in strict quarantine in China said yesterday that everyone at home had to play their part to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Harrison Burke said: “The longer it takes for people to get their act together and take this seriously, the longer it will take for any country to overcome it.

“Every single person in the community is responsible for the prevention of this.

“Thinking it won't impact them because they are young or healthy or Bermuda has a warm climate or any other reason that they have created in their head is wrong.”

Mr Burke, 28, a kindergarten English teacher, was speaking from his home in Beijing.

He said that the city, where he has lived for the past 2½ years, had gone into selective quarantine in January, but that he had been on forced home quarantine since he returned from a trip to Cambodia.

He explained: “I am not allowed to step foot outside my door.

“I can open it to receive the food I order and a community worker puts it outside of my door and rings the doorbell.”

Mr Burke said that he had had to sign a contract that he would not step outside over the two-week quarantine.

He added: “If I do, I'll be arrested.”

Mr Burke said even before his forced quarantine his daily schedule had been limited.

He added: “I tried to break up my day by travelling to the supermarket once or twice a day, work out inside my home, cook food and do some online work — and, of course, doing hours of reading and watching YouTube videos related to this situation.”

Mr Burke said that the Chinese authorities altered the restrictions on a daily basis.

He added: “One day they are positive and the next day a new problem has been found and that's followed by some more restrictions.”

Mr Burke said that he would be allowed back outside after the two weeks had passed, but that services in the area were limited and temperature checks were required everywhere that was still open.

Mr Burke added that some restaurants in his area were still open, but had adopted strict rules, including a maximum 50 per cent of normal customer capacity.

People also have to sit beside instead of face to face and masks must be worn by customers unless they were eating. He added that masks were required in enclosed spaces.

Mr Burke said: “The Government announced two days ago that if you are in an open space with nobody around you, you are allowed to take off the mask, but when people approach, you have to put it back on.”

He said that social gatherings were not allowed, and that tourist attractions, gyms, movie theatres, schools were all shut.

Bermudian Craig Darrell, who lives in Shenzhen, about 2,200 kilometres from Beijing, said the island “should limit outdoor activities and unnecessary trips to crowded places”.

The 33-year-old and his wife Li Xilian opened the UK Castle English school in the city last summer.

However, he said: “Unfortunately, due to the virus, we have been forced to close the school with mounting debts and not being able to open our school.”

Mr Darrell said that schools had been closed since January 10.

He added that lines at supermarkets had doubled since January and the price of face masks had tripled.

He said that things in Shenzhen were “gradually improving”.

Mr Darrell explained: “People can move pretty freely here, but with constant temperature checks.”

He said that he hoped to return to Bermuda when the threat posed by Covid-19 had ended “and start anew”.

Mr Darrell encouraged Bermudians to have a good supply of essentials on hand, but not to hoard.

He said: “With the equal sharing of resources, Bermuda can pull through it, just as Bermuda has gotten through many other bumps in the road in its history.”

More than 3,200 people have died from the virus in China.

Trapped in China: Craig Darrell and son Clifford, living in Shenzhen will be returning to Bermuda when the virus threat was over (Photograph supplied)
In quarantine: Harrison Burke is in Beijing

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Published March 23, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated March 23, 2020 at 9:22 am)

Act now to stop virus, says Bermudian in China

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