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Irish people on coronavirus lockdown tell of frustration

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Greg McDonagh with his wife and son

Greg McDonagh with his wife and son

Greg McDonagh with his wife and son

Growing numbers of Irish people enduring lockdown conditions in coronavirus-hit China are frustrated at what they believe is poor communication and support from the Department of Foreign Affairs, it emerged yesterday.

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

Meanwhile, Greg McDonough, a native of Listowel in Co Kerry, who lives in the neighbouring Anhui province, said the Department of Foreign Affairs is 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 to go to a travel agent if their presence was not essential, due to the coronavirus threat.

However, Mr McDonough, who is mostly confined to his home with his wife Wang Xuan and son Joseph (2), said a large Irish group in China who are in contact through WhatsApp want the Irish Embassy to do more.

"Restrictions are getting worse. Only one person a day from a house is allowed out to go to a supermarket," he said.

"The website recommended going to a travel agency, but that is unrealistic because of the lockdown."

He said a key concern for Irish people with Chinese partners is 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 and if a plane was sent to Shanghai, it might be possible for Irish people in neighbouring provinces to travel there.

Uncertain

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The Diamond Princess has been quarantined. Photo: @daxa_tw/PA Wire

The Diamond Princess has been quarantined. Photo: @daxa_tw/PA Wire

PA

Mr McDonough said the roads out of the town where he is are currently blocked off.

The Chinese Spring Festival was extended for a second week and the hope is that the roads will reopen on Monday.

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

A Foreign Affairs spokesman in Dublin said its embassy has been liaising with other countries on options for supporting Irish citizens in China.

It is in contact with remaining Irish people in China.

Separately, two Irish passengers who were on a luxury cruise face two weeks of quarantine and confinement to their cabins after an outbreak of the coronavirus on board.

They are among thousands of passengers who have been ordered to stay in their cabins aboard the Diamond Princess, docked off Japan, after 10 people tested positive for coronavirus.

The virus, which has infected more than 24,300 globally, continues to cause major disruption and havoc across the world.

Meanwhile, another patient suspected of having the virus was placed in isolation in University Hospital Kerry yesterday.

The person - understood to be a woman who may have been in contact with people who travelled to China recently - presented at the hospital with respiratory problems.

As a precautionary measure, the woman was immediately placed in isolation.

The Department of Health yesterday declined to say if she was cleared of risk, but said that nobody in Ireland had tested positive for the virus.

China's Juneyao Airlines has opted to postpone the March 29 launch of its service from Dublin to Shanghai amid the ongoing concerns over the virus.

The route - announced in late November - was a major coup for Dublin Airport following the decision by Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines to axe its six-month-old route to Shenzhen last August, and put its Dublin-Beijing service on ice until this year.