"I feel safer here”: Australian stuck in Wuhan slams those not taking self-isolation seriously

A 24-year-old teacher stuck in Wuhan during the coronavirus outbreak said she feels safer in China because Australians are failing to take the pandemic seriously.

Shay Kearney, from Murwilluhmbah in north-eastern NSW, packed up her things and made the journey to the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak two years ago to teach English.

For more than two months now, Ms Kearney has been holed up in her apartment after the city of 11 million was cut off from the rest of the world on January 23.

“We didn’t really have time to process it. We just went straight into lockdown,” she told A Current Affair.

“The streets were empty. We were stuck in our apartment, we couldn’t go anywhere and it felt like the apocalypse in a way. It was very scary.”

The virus first emerged in China in December 2019, and since then has officially registered 81,470 coronavirus cases and 3,340 deaths.

From April 8, residents will be allowed to leave Wuhan for the first time since January, as the city loosens its lockdown measures implemented to combat the virus.

They are currently allowed outside for two hours a day as life slowly returns back to normal.

Ms Kearney, who lives with her boyfriend, said she only intended to stay in China for a year but stayed on for a second because she loves her job.

The 24-year-old revealed that Beijing initially downplayed the severity of the virus.

“It’s just like the flu, it’s not that bad … that was before they even knew anything that was when we were just learning about the disease,” she said.

Ms Kearney said it was “frustrating” seeing Australians failing to take the pandemic seriously.

“I even spoke to my mum today and she’s like ‘people just aren’t getting it, people are at the beaches, people are just going to Bunnings’,” she said.

“Australia’s just in this mindset that’s weeks behind everyone and it’s time to catch-up.

“Honestly, I feel safer here.”

This story originally appeared on Over60.