Almost a million expats may still be trapped in China

Almost a million expats may still be trapped in China

Almost a million expats may still be trapped in China

Almost a million expats from across the world are presumed to be still in China as the country’s coronavirus epidemic continues to spread.

For a decade or more, China has been a magnet for expat entrepreneurs, English teachers and digital nomads, with little short of a million expats from dozens of world countries still in the cities and unable to leave. Official Chinese Communist Party news of the number of infections and deaths is suspected of being inaccurate, to say the least, and expats desperately attempting to find a way to leave are growing more fearful by the day.

China’s expensive private health clinics are beginning to turn away foreigners who believe they’re carrying the infection, telling them to go to local public hospitals in the full knowledge that these facilities are swarming with infected locals. According to the now basically shut-down British Embassy, it may be impossible to leave the country and the likelihood of UK expats being refused any kind of medical care due to overwhelmed hospitals is on the increase.

Expatriate social media is buzzing with posts about the pros and cons of leaving or staying, with expats who have Chinese wives and small children getting even more concerned. The risk of attending a local public hospital is a major thread, with most saying they’d catch another infection if they tried to get tested for the virus. One Shanghai private clinic is already refusing to screen those with fevers, directing them to the nearest fever treatment public facility. In Wuhan itself, panicked crowds are packing out the hospitals, and language is a major barrier for expats.

One Italian expat councelling psychologist in Shenzhen has started an online support group to help those who’re enduring isolation and severe anxiety due to being trapped and unable to leave. Those who don’t turn to online assistance are desperately trying to decide between sticking it out and leaving any way they can. One of the worse aspects for many is that, should they be able to make it out, they’d stilled be barred from entering their home countries due to the risk of their carrying the deadly infection.

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