‘Prayer really helped me a lot’ – man describes leaving Wuhan as coronavirus spreads

Workers manufacture protective face masks in a factory, as face mask stocks run low amid the outbreak of coronavirus, in Handan, Hebei Province, China, 23 January 2020. The outbreak of coronavirus has so far claimed 17 lives and infected more than 550 others, according to media reports. Authorities in Wuhan announced on 23 January, a complete travel ban on residents of Wuhan in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. EPA-EFE/STRINGER CHINA OUT

He bacame worried especially when people would cough.

A South African man working in Wuhan, China, says he was lucky to get a flight out of the city for the Lunar New Year break as the country widens its travel restrictions to halt the coronavirus outbreak

“My flight was one of the few that weren’t cancelled yesterday,” Sibusiso Sgwane, 35, told News24 on Friday.

He said some of the major railway stations, including subways, in the city closed after he left.

“To be honest with you, prayer really helped me a lot yesterday. It wasn’t easy to leave the city, particularly since there were too many reports about local transportation being cancelled… people not being able to move from one point to another.”

Sgwane was able to catch a flight to Shenzhen, China, and then make his way to Vietnam, where he is currently on holiday.

He said that while he left for a holiday, he had actually also been scared of the virus.

“I became worried a bit especially when I met people who would cough.”

According to the World Health Organisation, the new virus does not yet constitute an international emergency, but it was tracking its evolution constantly, Reuters reported.

Travel lockdowns in central China affected around 35 million people, with 26 people dead from the outbreak so far and at least 830 reported cases, according to the New York Times.

“Since the announcement of the outbreak of the coronavirus, we have been advised by government to wear masks at all times, cover our mouths whenever we cough, avoid spitting, avoid public areas or mixing up with crowds and also wash our hands with soap at all times,” said Sgwane.

He is set to return to Wuhan in two weeks’ time, but is worried about the logistics of flying back.

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