British grandmother trapped in Wuhan after lockdown following coronavirus outbreak

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Veronica Theobald is trapped in Wuhan after the city was put in lockdown (Picture: Getty)

A British grandmother is stuck in the Chinese city of Wuhan after it was put on lockdown following the coronavirus outbreak.

Veronica Theobald was due to fly home from the city, where she was visiting her grandson Kharn Lambert, on Monday but her return was cancelled after it was put on lockdown.

The 81-year-old from Lancaster, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is now running out of medication and has not left the house where she is staying for more than a week for fear of falling ill.

The news comes as British health officials were trying to track down around 2,000 who have flown to the country from China in the last two weeks.

Wuhan is just one area of China affected by the lockdown, which now restricts the movement of 56 million people.

Excavators and bulldozers are seen at the construction site where the new hospital is being built to treat patients of a new coronavirus, following the outbreak and the city's lockdown, on the outskirts of Wuhan, China January 24, 2020. Picture taken January 24, 2020. cnsphoto via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT.     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A prefab hospital is being built in Wuhan to deal with the crisis (Picture: Reuters)

Ms Theobald’s grandson Kharn, a PE teacher in Wuhan who has lived in the city for five years, told the PA news agency: “There is no knowing how long she will have to stay here, and I’m worried about her running out of the medication she needs for her health so I’m in constant contact with the British embassy.

“I do worry if I have to go out for whatever reason that I will bring something back into the house and she will become infected and fall ill.


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“She only brought enough medication for her time here plus an extra week in case of any flight delays etc. But nothing can prepare you for this.

“My family at home are extremely concerned about her, but I’m trying hard to reassure them that I am taking the best care of her as I can.”

BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 25: Chinese women wear masks as they walk by a window display marking the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival on January 25, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to over 1300 in mainland China Saturday as health officials locked down the city of Wuhan earlier in the week in an effort to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts have been confirmed can be passed from human to human. In an unprecedented move, Chinese authorities put travel restrictions on the city of Wuhan and neighbouring cities affecting a population of over 35 million. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to at least 41 on Saturday and cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Australia, France, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Chinese New Year celebrations were left subdued after cities across China were put under lockdown amid the deadly coronavirus (Picture: Getty)

Mr Lambert said the embassy had put them in touch with a doctor who is due to check up on his grandmother’s health after the weekend.

He said the mood in Wuhan had changed in the last 24 hours.

“People are starting to realise the seriousness off the situation,” he added.

“Due to the hysteria caused by the lockdown yesterday, it was difficult to get food and any food that was available had been increased in price. However, I went to the supermarket today and the shelves had been restocked.”

Fellow Briton Mustafa Siddiqui, 36, a Londoner who has lived in Wuhan for 14 years, said: “This is the first time in a decade I’ve seen the city this quiet. It’s very eerie outside, people are taking precautions, they are wearing masks, they are wearing surgical gloves.

“In my opinion the message did go out a little slow, but you have to put this in a context that this is Chinese New Year time and the authorities do not want to create panic.”

Two British teachers working in the city have also told how they are unable to return to Wuhan while it remains on lockdown.

Chris Raymond, a teacher from Reading, is unable to return to Wuhan, where he's been living for three years, following the outbreak of coronavirus (Picture: PA)
Chris Raymond, a teacher from Reading, is unable to return to Wuhan, where he's been living for three years, following the outbreak of coronavirus (Picture: PA)

Chris Raymond, 28, from Reading, has lived in the city for three years but is on holiday in the UK.

He said: “I’m due back on February 14 so I’m hoping that it all blows over by then or at least the airports are open.”

Another teacher, who wanted to remain anonymous, said if the ban is not lifted, he could potentially move back to the UK.

“I plan on continuing to travel past my planned return date by a couple of weeks and then if the place is still a no go, go back to the UK and return when I can,” he said.

“It’s a pain as all my stuff is in my flat and I’m really sad as I love my job and hope to be back as soon as possible.

“If I hadn’t been out the country when I heard about the lockdown — a few hours before it happened — I would have got out the city with all my stuff and come back to the UK.”

Chinese New Year celebrations were said to be subdued amid the concerns over the worsening crisis, which has claimed at least 41 lives.

Wuhan is currently building a 1,000-bed prefab hospital to deal with the outbreak, which is hoped to be completed by February 3.

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