Malawians trapped in Wuhan, the Coronavirus epicenter in China, have pleaded with government to relocate them to a low risk area as the crisis deepens and they are now facing economic hardships as a result of the lockdown.
Leader of Malawians in the City, Bright Chipao told iHubOnline in a video conference today that the situation has become desperate as the cost of living has become scarce in the wake of a lockdown.
“Since the lockdown, we are in great danger. To make matters worse, we have run out of funds as the cost of living is worsening by the day,” lamented Chipao.
He said one Malawian student is trapped outside Wuhan where she had gone for a holiday.
“The lockdown was instituted when she had gone on holiday. What it means is that she’s now trapped and running low on cash. We have reported the matter to the embassy and they are looking into it,” he added.
So far, no Malawian living in China has been diagnosed with the disease.
He however said anxiety and fear has become a norm as most of them are constantly going to the hospital whenever any of the symptoms of the disease manifest.
“It is evident that we are all living in fear. When your roommate goes out, you never know what is it they will bring. Likewise, whenever you feel sick or stressed, you think its the virus and rush to the hospital. Actually, the hospital is also a danger zone because you can get infected,” he narrated the challenges they are encountering at the Coronavirus Ground Zero.
He also lamented that face masks and other protective gear is in short supply.
“We couldn’t access masks in shops. Our university provided some safety apparatus later on,” he said.
Locked in dormitories, students have resorted to strict rationing of food and water commodities that are fast becoming scarce even for those with cash in hand.
“Unlike in Malawi, here we don’t drink tap water here. We buy bottled water and it is becoming increasingly difficult to cope with the scarcity and price increases such that we only have to ration supplies to last long,” he added.
There are over 60,000 African migrants in China, at least 5,000 being students.
A number of airlines – including Kenyan Airways and Ethiopian Airways have suspended flights to the ground zero of the Coronavirus and other areas as the virus has spread into all regions and several other countries.
Wuhan Tianhe International Airport, located where the outbreak was first registered and gained traction, has been temporarily closed.
Chipao said this raises fears that the situation could get worse with time, with evacuation becoming an improbable option.
Currently, the Malawi Embassy in Beijing continues to monitor the situation in Wuhan and other areas where Malawians are based.
According to Chipao, Ambassador Charles Namondwe, in person, is making routine checks at least 3 times a day.
However, there is little happening amid the shutdown and strict enforcement of regulations restricting movement of people.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has since declared the novel Coronavirus as an estimated 10,000 people are said to have contracted the disease with 213 deaths recorded.
This rate surpasses the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak which had 8,100 confirmed infections and 800 deaths.