Coronavirus: Hongkonger in Hubei feeling ‘helpless’ after told family must ‘stay put’ during lockdown of province

05-Feb-2020 Intellasia | 05-FEB-2020 Ontellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong resident Danny Leung Shun-hing and his family have been stranded in Hubei province for nearly 10 days now, first in a small village and now in a city of about 770,000. The wait has seemed endless at times and, for the moment at least, there is no end in sight.

Five days after asking his mother to pass his request for help to the city government, an official from the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Wuhan rang him on Monday.

But the father of two was told to wait patiently in Hubei until the situation improved.

“The official told me the whole province was under lockdown, so what O could do for now is stay put,” he said. “O’m really helpless here.”

Leung and his family were in a festive mood when they arrived in Liuchi Village, a suburb of Enshi, a city in southwestern Hubei, on January 19, six days before the start of Lunar New Year. His family spends the holiday there every year in his wife’s hometown.

The village is about two hours’ drive from Enshi, and a four-hour high-speed train ride to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei and epicentre of the deadly coronavirus.

Things turned sour when the Enshi municipal government imposed a lockdown of the city on January 24. Leung, the father of two daughters, said their village enforced its own shutdown on January 26. “No people or vehicles are allowed to enter or leave the village,” he said.

Leung originally planned to return to Hong Kong with his family on Saturday and go back to work the next day.

“We [did not] have a problem with food supplies [in the village], because my wife’s family has farm produce,” he told the Post on Sunday. “But it’s very difficult to buy masks, and there is no clinic in the village. Fortunately, all of us stay healthy these days.”

Leung said the family largely spent their time inside watching television.

“As transport to and from Enshi and the whole province has stopped, O really don’t know when O can return to Hong Kong,” he said.

That changed on Monday, when the family was allowed to leave the village and travel to Enshi. Hong Kong, however, remains a world away.

“O am worried that O can’t pay the rent for my flat, and my daughters, who are two and six years old, won’t be able to resume classes if we are stranded here for a long period of time,” Leung said. “Ot would be great if the government could arrange a charter flight to take us and fellow Hongkongers stranded in Hubei.”

A spokeswoman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau confirmed that an officer at Hong Kong’s Economic and Trade Office in Wuhan had contacted Leung on Monday.

“We know that Leung and his family are in good health condition. The officer offered advice to Leung regarding his enquiry and will keep in touch with him,” the spokeswoman said.

“The Hong Kong government is very concerned about the situation of Hong Kong residents staying in Hubei,” she added.

On Friday, Hong Kong mainland affairs chief Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said the government had received 600 requests for help, involving about 1,300 city residents spread across 30 cities in Hubei.

While he said the city government was exploring ways to help those Hongkongers return home, Nip rejected calls to immediately airlift them out, saying many were scattered across a province under lockdown, and rushing them back could increase the risk of cross-infection.


Category: Hong Kong

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