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Silent streets: Canadians describe life in China during coronavirus outbreak


It’s been just over a week since Wuhan, China — the epicenter of a new viral outbreak — was quarantined. For the Canadians stuck within the borders, it’s been difficult trying to lead a normal life.

Since Jan. 23, the central Chinese city of more than 11 million has been on lockdown. The new strain of coronavirus is believed to have emerged at a wet market in the city, where meat, fish and other perishable items were sold.

As of Friday, it has led to more than 200 deaths and and infected nearly 10,000 people worldwide.

Patterson Wu was visiting Wuhan from Vancouver when the quarantine order came down.

He said the once-bustling city became a ghost town overnight. The silence in the streets has been the most jarring to him.

“I live near a very popular area and it’s been really quiet,” he said. “There’s no cars, no sound, just nothing.”

Wu is hunkered down in a home with six others. He said food supply hasn’t been a concern.

“We have a lot of food stocked up because of Chinese New Year and family members not coming here to celebrate since the breakout. So we have quite a bit of food for the next few weeks,” he said.

While grocery stores and shops remain open, many of the people still in Wuhan are choosing to stay inside — Wu included.

“We stay at home, try to entertain ourselves and keep positive,” Wu said.

It has become a massive effort to keep Wuhan and nearby cities at the center of the outbreak supplied with enough food and other necessities.

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A number of shipping trucks have been granted permits to leave the quarantine to collect food and bring it back to the 17 locked-down cities. Food is being brought in from as far as Yunnan province, about 1,700 kilometres west of Wuhan, according to Hubei government officials, as reported by the Associated Press.


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