Teacher from Chesterfield now working in China urges people in the UK to stay at home

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020 2:19pm

By George Torr- Local Democracy Reporting Service

A teacher living in China has spoken about the coronavirus lockdown and has a clear message for people back in the UK – stay at home.

Ms Ford, originally from Chesterfield, moved to Malaysia in 2015 and later married fellow teacher Suresh Dass in 2019 moving to China in August for work. 

The couple travelled to Malaysia for Chinese New Year on January 20 and in that time, everything started to change. 

On the initial outbreak, Rachel said: “There was talk of the virus in China but it wasn’t made much of a big deal at the time because nothing was really being said about it.

“From mid-January, I was watching BBC News and UK news in general thinking that everyone was over-reacting. 

“As we were in Malaysia, news reports were getting more and more serious – Wuhan went into lockdown first. We were shocked because before that it seemed like it wasn’t a big deal and we thought the western media in particular was being a bit overdramatic. 

“I had friends who were going to stay in China for the New Year but decided to get out because it was really bad – I also had colleagues who were there for the entire time who were in lockdown for the entire month of February – nobody went out. 

“We came back due to school putting pressure on us and we did feel like we had to come back. We got back and everyone had masks on, temperatures were being checked and so many shops had closed.”

People were asked to carry out questionnaires on an app which gave you either a green, orange or red health code meaning you had to quarantine for 14, seven days or carry on as normal. 

The app also tracked their location and the health code would change colour depending on how many coronavirus cases there were. 

“We just stayed at home and only walked the dog but on March 8, that all changed when the Government said because more people were returning to China from overseas, there had been a kind of second wave of the virus and because we’d been in Malaysia, they deemed the country as medium risk,” Rachel added. 

“We had to finish our two weeks quarantine and unlike the UK, it was compulsory. The accommodation services put a sticker on your door and if this ripped you would have to start all over again.”

The pair had to take temperature twice a day and send it to the accommodation officer over Chinese messaging service WeChat and kept their spirits up with yoga, boxing and online teaching courses.  

On the situation in the UK, Rachel had a clear message.

“People need to wise up and listen to what the Government is saying – right now people need to stay indoors. It’s completely selfish people are ignoring the warnings. I saw the news back home of people heading out and I couldn’t believe it. 

“It’s frustrating when I watch the news in the UK that people are complaining the Government has left it too late but when they say don’t go out I see people flocking to crowded areas. 

“Proper lockdown will come but I don’t know if the UK could enforce it like China has. 

“The Chinese authorities have enforced this and it’s got it’s pros and cons but it’s ended up in a drop in cases and it’s slowly started to get back to normal. I’m back at work now and the children I teach could be back in April.” 

More from Local

Cover art for Happy Hour

On Air

Richie Pearson playing Housemartins - Happy Hour