Malaysians anxious about their relatives in China

  • Nation
  • Monday, 03 Feb 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Chinese New Year is meant to be a time of joy and celebration, but for those with relatives and loved ones who are trapped in the lockdown in China due to the Wuhan virus, all they feel is anxiety.

Lee Ai Leng, 36, said she is concerned over a few of her relatives who are residing in China after marrying locals there.

She said the festive mood among her maternal relatives who are living in Shanghai and Beijing has been dampened.

“My relatives were supposed to be celebrating Chinese New Year, but they described the mood and atmosphere there as chilly and quiet, ” she added.

Shanghai, which lies about 700km from Wuhan – the capital of Hubei province and the epicentre of the novel coronavirus epidemic – has over 150 confirmed cases while Beijing has more than 100.

As a mother of four, Lee said she is taking measures to prevent her children from catching any infection.

“We have a lot of masks left over from the haze season last year. We just have to be diligent in wearing masks, even though it is uncomfortable to do so.

“My children’s schools are pretty strict too; they are extra watchful of students who return from other countries, ” she said.

Another Malaysian, Michael Lee, whose wife is from China, said they are concerned about his in-laws.

“Of course, we are worried about them but their situation is not so bad as they live in Harbin, ” said the 48-year-old driver.

Harbin is the capital of the Heilongjiang province.

Asked about the Spring Festival revelry, he said his parents-in-law celebrated it as they would any other year.

“Only thing is, it’s freezing cold there, ” he said.

Other Malaysians who do not have relatives in China said while their Chinese New Year has not been much affected by the virus outbreak, they remain vigilant when it comes to their health.

Ngau Wah Xian, 26, said he has been avoiding crowded places and enclosed areas such as cinemas.

“However, I would still go out to visit friends as it is Chinese New Year. The majority of the public are aware of the virus outbreak, and are taking the necessary steps, ” said the engineer.

Elaine Lee, 38, a babysitter from Ipoh, said she decided not to bring her charge with her to Kuala Lumpur.

“I would have brought the baby with me. But with the outbreak, how could I?

“There is no treatment for this disease, so I am not taking any chances. For myself, I even carry around a large bottle of hand sanitiser, ” she said.

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