Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 30 May 2020

Coronavirus: Chinese residents speak about anxious night in isolation rooms in Dubai hospital

Residents shared their experiences so others will report symptoms

Yilin Huang along with her mother in law Guanghui Wu and her father in law Fabing Li Yilin. Antonie Robertson / The National
Yilin Huang along with her mother in law Guanghui Wu and her father in law Fabing Li Yilin. Antonie Robertson / The National

Chinese nationals in the UAE have shared videos and photographs on social media of nerve-wracking hours spent overnight in isolation in Dubai hospitals before they tested negative for the deadly coronavirus.

Two days after the first UAE coronavirus case was reported last month, a Dubai couple was asked by health authorities to attend to Rashid Hospital along with their parents who had arrived from Hubei province before Beijing announced a lockdown.

Yilin Huang, who works with a media company, and her husband Xiangyu Li, an electrical engineer, had to calm his parents who do not speak English and were scared about being placed in separate rooms.

“They were afraid because they thought they would stay in hospital for many days but the results came in less than one day,” said the 26-year-old.

After the lung CT scans and blood tests were carried out, Ms Huang knocked on her mother-in-law’s hospital room door with news of the all-clear report.

“It was the first time I saw her crying," she said. "We felt so happy the whole family is okay.”

Ms Huang said it was comforting to hear health officials speak in Chinese.

“It was very touching because we were worried about people treating us like a virus,” she said.

She said the family were grateful the UAE government had allowed for free coronavirus testing.

“Even though we were scared because of the isolation, we were comfortable in the rooms that were like any hotel,” she said.

“We got lunch, dinner, chocolates, fruit and juice.”

Ms Huang filmed their journey to the hospital, the blood tests, mouth swabs and their time in isolation.

The video she posted has gained more than 580,000 views on Xiahongshu or the Little Red Book, a popular online content sharing and shopping platform in China.

In one clip, a UAE official told her: “We will take care of you. Don’t worry, it’s a regular routine for everyone coming from China including UAE workers. Everything is for free, investigations are free.”

Ms Huang said Chinese residents in Asia and Europe had responded to her video with details of the high cost of medical check-ups in their countries of residence.

“I shared my experience to tell people to go to hospital to make it safe for everyone,” she said.

Her video has been viewed by thousands of Chinese residents in Dubai and prompted several to report their symptoms.

Sean, who gave the English name he is known by, saw Ms Huang’s video and rushed to Rashid Hospital with high fever and vomiting last week.

He linked it to symptoms of the coronavirus epidemic since he had returned from a trip home to Guangzhou days earlier.

“There were seven Chinese people in the hospital and most of them had fever,” he said.

After the tests, the men were placed in separate rooms for the night and got clearances the next day.

“Watching the news and seeing so many people dying in China every day, this made me nervous and stressed,” he said.

He too posted about his experience in Rashid Hospital on WeChat, an online Chinese messaging service.

“Here I had the chance to get to the hospital. In my country you have no chance to meet the doctor because all hospitals are occupied.”

Sean was referring to media reports of scarce supplies and hospitals overwhelmed in cities like Wuhan where patients showing symptoms often cannot see a doctor.

More than 60,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in China with at least 1,350 deaths.

On Friday, one mother in the UAE spoke of imposing home quarantine on her family after her husband returned from a business trip in China.

In a WhatsApp message to mums in a school group, Fang Fang said: “Even though my husband’s hometown is over 1,500 kilometres from the city of Wuhan, the affected area, and he is totally fine, for safety purposes we have decided to do a self-quarantine because of the incubation period of the coronavirus.”

The family cancelled a vacation to Turkey that they had planned during the mid-term break.

She asked teachers to send her children, aged 8 and 6, additional homework and keeps them entertained with piano practice and art work.

“There are 200,000 Chinese in Dubai and I don’t want other parents to be scared when my children go to school even if they are healthy,” she said.

“I’m a parent and I would be concerned too if I knew someone had just come back from China because we know how terrible the virus can be.

"Since the coronavirus was originally found in China, we have the responsibility to make things safe.”

Updated: February 15, 2020 01:26 PM

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