I'm glad I stayed in Wuhan – says British teacher who stayed in city

I’m glad I stayed in Wuhan – I’m out of lockdown and you’re still stuck in it, says British teacher who stayed in the Chinese city where coronavirus originated

  • Chris Hill, 38, didn’t fly back to the UK because he didn’t want to leave his family 
  • He spent 76 days in lockdown in Wuhan but says he is glad he decided to stay 
  • Mr Hill says UK relatives are struggling with lockdown, but Wuhan’s has ended

A British teacher living in the coronavirus epicentre Wuhan says he is relieved to have opted against returning to the UK, despite spending 76 days in lockdown. 

Chris Hill, 38, a foreign language teacher originally from Washington in Tyne and Wear, lives with his wife and four-year-old daughter around 10 minutes from the market where the global pandemic is thought to have originated. 

He says he is now glad that he decided not to go back home to the UK, as it is only two weeks into its own lockdown while battling the outbreak.

In January, as the city began to shut down, Mr Hill had toyed with the prospect of returning on one of several repatriation flights to the UK, but opted not to do so.

He feared that his young family would be unable to join him.

He sad: ‘Wuhan has been under lockdown for around two-and-a-half months. If I was in England, I would just be going into lockdown, (making it) five, six, seven months in total.

‘I’d take the three months over seven any day.’

While some restrictions have now been lifted to allow people to travel in and out of the city, residents are still only permitted to leave the home for two hours at a time.

Mr Hill said: ‘People who do live in Wuhan that were outside of the city when the lockdown took place, it allows them back in.

‘But the restrictions that I have of going out for two hours per day, those are still in place until the end of the month and then they’re going to reassess.

Chris Hill with his four-year-old daughter Renee Gao. He says he is glad he opted to stay in Wuhan

Caitlyn Gao, wife of Chris Hill, with their four-year-old daughter Renee Gao. Mr Hill was worried his family wouldn’t have been able to join him in the UK

Mr Hill said he was in regular contact with friends and family back home, who are ‘going crazy’ under lockdown

‘Most of the businesses are still closed because with the two-hour time limit, there’s no point in businesses opening for most of the day. So everyone just stays at home.’

Mr Hill said he expected to be entirely free to leave his home by the middle of May – almost four months on from the January 23 start of the city’s lockdown.

He added that carrying on with his teaching online had been hard, saying: ‘My wife still works, my daughter is being a hyperactive four-year-old who wants to go out but can’t.’

Mr Hill said he was in regular contact with friends and family back home, who are ‘going crazy’ just two weeks into the UK’s own restrictive measures.

Having experienced it for two-and-a-half months himself, Mr Hill advised those struggling with the experience of being stuck at home: ‘What you like doing as a hobby – do it as much as you can.’

‘Well, not drinking. That’s just stupid,’ he added.

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