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Cornwall woman says Hong Kong in 'quiet panic' over coronavirus

Cornwall woman says Hong Kong in 'quiet panic' over coronavirus

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 8:01am 28th January 2020. (Updated at 6:46am 29th January 2020)

A young woman from Cornwall who is living in Hong Kong tells Pirate FM the coronavirus is leaving people "quietly panicked".

Rachel Capp is from Nanstallon, just outside of Bodmin, and has been in the Chinese-ruled region for four years.

The 26-year-old was originally working as a singer at Disneyland and now teaches dance and drama to children.

The death toll in China has now risen to more than 130.

So far there have been six confirmed cases of the deadly new virus in Hong Kong, however a further 100 people are said to be in hospital with symptoms.

"Everywhere is sold out of surgical masks and alcohol for cleaning your hands, I just went out to try and buy some hand sanitiser but you can find it anywhere.

"Luckily I bought a few boxes of facemasks before the outbreak got really bad, because I could see this happening, so I'm okay and my fiancé is okay.

"But you see a lot of people on the street who don't have a mask and that's because they're sold out everywhere, and for babies and children too".

Rachel Capp

coronavirus - hong kong
An empty cafe in Hong Kong, described by a Cornish woman living in the region as "quietly panicked"

"Everyone is kind of quietly panicked... it's scary".

Across the whole of China, the death toll has risen to 81 and the number of confirmed cases has reached more than 2,700.

The country has warned the ability of the coronavirus to spread is getting stronger. Little is known about the new virus, and they are unclear on the risks posed by it mutating.

"There is a lot less people out on the streets and on the trains, Disneyland has completely closed for the foreseeable future, and the other theme park here has closed down until further notice too.

"The schools are shut until the 17th February.

"Everybody is wearing masks if they can get them, everyone is kind of quietly panicked, they are trying to go around their normal daily lives but it's a bit scary".

Rachel Capp

According to Chinese state television, Beijing has reported its first death from the coronavirus - a 50-year-old who had recently been to Wuhan, the city at the epicentre of the outbreak.

National Health Commission minister Ma Xiaowei said the incubation period for the coronavirus can range from one to 14 days, and it is infectious during this time.

This was not the case with the previous Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, which also originated in China and killed nearly 800 people around the world in 2002 and 2003.

coronavirus - hong kong
Rachel Capp from Bodmin says everybody who can get their hands on surgical masks are wearing them everywhere they go

"We've got enough stock for a month, after that I'm not sure what we'll do..."

"You've got to wear the mask just to go out for five minutes, to pop to the shops or something, they are disposable and you can only wear them once, even just to go and get some water, that is one mask gone from our stocks.

"The government has advised that surgical masks give you better protection from the virus and the reusable ones do not.

"Luckily I've got a couple of boxes of masks, so we have enough stock to keep ourselves going for round a month, but after that I'm not sure how we'll get them. 

"We're washing our hands all the time, spraying the bottom of our shoes as you can pick up and spread the virus that way, keeping the house extremely clean, spraying down door knobs with sanitiser, and the government has also advised that we wash out our drains once a week.

"So they are advising us to wear masks, wash our hands every time you go in and out of the house, they say the virus can stick on hand rails and escalators for 24 hours, we're stepping up our normal personal hygiene, they say we should drink water constantly as you need to keep your throat moist as the virus can enter into a dry throat. There is also a rumour that we need to start wearing glasses or goggles and the virus can enter through the eyes, which is a bit scary".

Rachel Capp

coronavirus - hong kong
Rachel has told Pirate FM there are a lot less people on the streets and trains - but everybody is taking extra precautions to stay safe

The UK Foreign Office has advised against "all travel to Wuhan" and said people should leave if they are able to do so.

Boris Johnson says they are working on plans to help UK citizens already in China.

73 people have now been tested for coronavirus in the UK and all the results have come back negative.

However, Public Health England thinks the infection has probably already reached here.

"Tonight I was supposed to have dinner with friends but we've cancelled as they're saying we should avoid going to crowded places, so we're just staying at home as much as we can".

Rachel Capp

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