Stranded in Wuhan, foreigners left behind raise call for help, Latest World News - The New Paper

Stranded in Wuhan, foreigners left behind raise call for help

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WUHAN: Pregnant, newly wed and now trapped in Wuhan, Thai national Aphinya Thasripech is among thousands of foreigners desperate to escape - and watching helplessly as the US, Japan and Singapore fly their citizens home.

Hundreds were flown to safety this week to Tokyo, Singapore and California on government-chartered flights, but those from countries with less diplomatic clout fear they are being left behind.

"I feel hurt that they don't care about us," Ms Aphinya , 32, said. "Either I could starve or I'll get infected and die," said the factory worker, who is two months pregnant.

So far, 170 people have been killed by the virus since it emerged from a market in Wuhan, and more than 7,700 people have been sickened.

The illness has also spread around the world, with cases being recorded as far away as the United Arab Emirates, Finland and the United States, but all of the deaths have been in China.

China has imposed transport bans in and around Wuhan - effectively trapping tens of millions of people - including thousands of foreigners - in a bid to contain the virus.

Ms Aphinya arrived in China two weeks ago to marry her Chinese husband in Xiantao - about 200km from Wuhan.

Ms Aphinya said she is worried for the health of her unborn baby, and desperate for the Thai government to get her out.

For days, the Thai government has said they are awaiting permission from China to evacuate 65 citizens known to be at ground zero.

But the wait is taking its toll.

"Sooner or later, it will get to us," said Ms Aphinya.

South Korea, France and Britain have all announced preparations to evacuate their citizens. Japan has already brought out two plane-loads.


But "fear, frustration and panic" is mounting among those still trapped, said Pakistani Ruqia Shaikh, 33, who was visiting friends when the city was locked down.

There are around 500 Pakistani students in Wuhan. Four have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, an official in Islamabad has said.

Mr Fadil, an Indonesian doctoral student in Wuhan, said he and his friends are desperate to leave - even if only to another Chinese city.

There are about 100 Indonesians in Wuhan, and another 143 elsewhere in Hubei province.

"The key thing is that we want to get out of here," he said. "Only fools would want to stay in Wuhan." - AFP