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Expats in coronavirus-hit Wuhan call on Ireland to do more amid lockdown

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Getting the message out: Police operate a drone to spread information via loudspeakers about the control of the new coronavirus in Xiangyang in Hubei province near Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. Photo: REUTERS

Getting the message out: Police operate a drone to spread information via loudspeakers about the control of the new coronavirus in Xiangyang in Hubei province near Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. Photo: REUTERS

REUTERS

Getting the message out: Police operate a drone to spread information via loudspeakers about the control of the new coronavirus in Xiangyang in Hubei province near Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. Photo: REUTERS

Growing numbers of Irish people enduring lockdown conditions in coronavirus-hit China are frustrated at the poor communication and support from Irish foreign affairs officials.

In Wuhan, in the Hubei province, the epicentre of the virus, food and medicine shortages are emerging.

Greg McDonough, from Listowel in Kerry, who is mostly confined to his home with his wife Wang Xuan and son Joseph (2) in a small town in the neighbouring Anhui province, said the Department of Foreign Affairs was providing them with little information other than to "check our website".

The department's website earlier this week asked Irish people still in China to consider leaving and go to a travel agent if their presence was not essential.

However, Mr McDonough said a large Irish group in China who are in contact through WhatsApp wanted the Irish Embassy to do more.

"Restrictions are getting more strict. Only one person a day from a house is allowed out to go to supermarket. The website recommended going to a travel agency but that is unrealistic because of the lockdown," he added.

He said a key concern for Irish people with Chinese partners was that they be allowed to travel with them should they decide to leave China.

"They do not want to leave them behind. The embassy needs to secure an agreement with Chinese authorities to permit them to travel," he said.

They also want the Irish officials to plan for repatriation if the situation deteriorates. If a plane was sent to Shanghai, it might be possible for Irish people in neighbouring provinces to travel there.

Mr McDonough said the roads out of his town were currently blocked off.

The Chinese spring festival was extended for a second week and the hope is the roads will reopen on Monday.

However, the future continues to remain uncertain as deaths from the virus near 500 in China with no sign of slowdown.

A foreign affairs spokesman said the embassy had been liaising with other countries on options for supporting Irish citizens in China.

It is in contact with the remaining Irish nationals in China.

Irish Independent