Wuhan coronavirus lockdown: 'We've got enough food to last 10 days'

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Police inspect a car at a toll station outside Wuhan, ChinaImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Police have been inspecting vehicles at toll stations outside Wuhan, China

What is life like for those from the Chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak?

BBC Chinese has been talking to the locals still living in Wuhan, the central city where the virus emerged last month.

They are unable to leave after officials imposed limitations on movement within certain areas of the country in order to halt the spread of the illness.

So, as families across the country gather to celebrate Chinese New Year, three residents share their experience of life under lockdown with the BBC.

Image source, AFP/Getty
Image caption,
More than 80 million masks were sold by Chinese online retailer Taobao, 20-21 January

Wuhan-native Ms Feng, 25, returned home from Beijing to Wuhan for the Chinese New Year on Wednesday. On the high-speed rail, the atmosphere felt eerie.

The Spring Festival is the world's biggest annual human migration, and the station should have been full of people. But, instead, it was empty.

"When we arrived at Wuhan, 90% of the passengers wore face masks. Nobody talked and it was quite horrifying," she said.

In the early hours of the next day, authorities announced they were putting Wuhan under lockdown - and it was at this moment that Ms Feng realised the severity of the situation.

"I thought it was under control, but the reality was the otherwise."

Now, she is wracked with anxiety, regretting having made the trip home: how is she going to get back to work in Beijing after the holiday ends? What if she is infected with the virus? And will she be quarantined even if she somehow manages to get back to Beijing?

Media caption,

What's life like in quarantined Wuhan?

Lawyer Si Weijiang went to Wuhan to visit a family member in hospital - but is now trapped in the city.

"I was a bit hesitant when I came," he acknowledged. "There seems to be something that has not come to light."

He says worrying will achieve nothing: "We could only take things as they come."

Life, in a limited way, is continuing in the city. After transport was suspended, the streets felt empty but most convenience stores were still open for business. However, many people are wearing cotton face masks instead of surgical face masks, which Mr Si suspects may indicate a shortage of regular face masks.

Media caption,

Fears over coronavirus in China trigger face mask shortage

A Chinese student from Wuhan, who wishes to remain anonymous, is staying off the streets, hidden away with his family.

"All of my family are staying indoors. My mother went to the supermarket yesterday and the shelves were empty.

"We've got enough food and water to last us 10 days but after that we don't know what will happen."

He adds he knew about the virus a month before official announcements.

"I told my family to buy food and masks, so we've been well prepared."

A friend of his, however, has not had the masks he ordered arrive because of roads being blocked.

"A week ago I went to a hospital in Wuhan to pick up my prescription. There were not many people were wearing masks then.

"Luckily my family are all fine and we've been checking our temperatures daily but can we really celebrate Chinese New Year with all of this going on?"