Wuhan, China is currently on lockdown as the now fatal coronavirus mounts new heights
Irish man Ben Kavanagh spent his birthday alone in a city of 10 million under lockdown to avoid contracting the deadly illness coronavirus.
Kavanagh, a psychology teacher from Kilcullen, Co. Kildare, has been living in the Chinese city of Wuhan for two years.
He told Newstalk Radio that he was concerned if he left the city there was a risk he could spread the virus.
He said he “did a big shop” on Sunday morning while he wore a mask so he now has enough supplies for 10 to 14 days. He said staying indoors is the safest way to avoid being infected.
It was difficult to describe the situation because there are no people around. He said, “Everyone is keeping to themselves because there is such a long incubation period.”
He declined the offer of a friend to visit him and help celebrate his birthday on Tuesday. He explained, “I said no because there’s no way to tell if anyone is infected.”
Although he wasn’t worried last week, he admitted he may soon start getting concerned. He told the station, “There’s not much point in worrying, but if the situation gets worse then I might worry. I’m trying my best not to get infected.”
Asked about possible measures by the Irish government to bring citizens home, Kavanagh said he would feel like he was leaving his life behind. “What if leaving would spread the virus more?”
The Department of Health said its National Public Health Emergency Team met on Monday to review the ongoing preparedness of the Irish health system for any cases of the virus that occur in Ireland. A statement gave no details of the group’s deliberations but pointed out that no confirmed cases had occurred in Ireland.
Waterford Institute of Technology said one of its students was in self-isolation after traveling from Wuhan last weekend. The man is not ill and has agreed not to attend college as a precaution.
Members of the Chinese community in Ireland have expressed concern about the presence of a tour party from the region of China where the coronavirus originated.
The group left China before restrictions were imposed on travel there, came to Britain and then traveled on to Ireland on the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin at the weekend.
Chinese social media posts show a woman member of the group posing at various landmarks, including Trinity College in Dublin and the Titanic Belfast.
While there is no evidence the group posed any health threat, its presence in Ireland prompted criticism on Chinese social media. One poster warned the community in Ireland, and in particular Chinese restaurants, to “be aware” of their presence.
China said on Tuesday that 106 people had died from the coronavirus. The number of confirmed cases was 4,515, according to the National Health Commission.