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One of the Britons flown back from Wuhan has been keeping a diary of life at Arrowe Park hospital in Merseyside

Britons evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan have been kept in quarantine at Arrowe Park hospital in Wirral since arriving back in the UK last week. Here, one of them, a 32-year-old English teacher who has lived in Wuhan for the last four years, describes what it has been like living under quarantine.


This morning we were all given a note saying that someone on the second evacuation flight fell ill on the plane and was taken straight to hospital for tests. A couple of people asked if they were OK, but it didnt cause a panic or anything. What did cause a commotion is that even though food is being provided for us by the NHS and by local people some people are still ordering takeaways (on the taxpayers money), and today they announced it would have to stop.

Up to this point, weve been given sandwiches and ready meals. Its not great, but its free. But from tomorrow night, a catering company will be serving us food, so people cant order any more takeaways. That caused a bit of a stir in the WeChat group were all part of people werent very impressed.

A takeaway being delivered to the isolation accommodation at Arrowe Park hospital before the practice was stopped. Photograph: Lindsey Parnaby/AFP via Getty Images

Today Ive been revisiting the TV classics, watching Peep Show on my friends laptop, reading JG Ballard, listening to podcasts and that is really about it.

Ive basically lost one of my friends from Wuhan to his Fifa addiction. I think the people running this place were expecting loads of families, so they bought loads of games consoles, but there are only three or four children here. So suddenly there were all these brand new games consoles up for grabs my friend snatched one up and I havent really seen him since.

What happens to these consoles when we get out of here? I dont think anyone took a record of whos got one and I really dont think anyone will be counting them back in. I hope they get donated to childrens wards or something. It would be great if I could have a laptop of my own. If they gave me Football Manager or something you can really get your teeth in to the time would fly by.


I woke up and had a bath I dont have a bath in China so thats quite a nice thing.

Some local people have donated books to us. Im a big reader but these are rubbish. That sounds really ungrateful but, I mean, theyre terrible. Theres not even a Dan Brown. Say what you like about Dan Brown that guy sold a lot of books but these are by people youve never heard of.

I think the place is run by a private company on behalf of the NHS. You can email an order to them and two hours later whatever you asked for shows up. Theres a guy who has ordered bottles of wine, spirits and two crates of beer and hes keeping them in his bedroom. Tonight he offered me some wine. I felt like I was going into a bar. He gave me a paper cup full of wine. I thought: Are you kidding me? This is ridiculous! Hes ordered all of it through this company and theyve given it to him for free, no questions asked. Its incredible.

I watched some daytime BBC soap operas today Doctors, it was unbelievably stupid. Christ, that was the highlight of the day thats bleak!

There is a communal area but people dont seem to be using it. Im keeping mostly to myself. I sat with one of my colleagues from Wuhan while he watched some old episodes of Oz, but were all just doing the same thing.

This diary isnt going to be very interesting, unless someone develops symptoms, which you never know. Were right in the middle of the optimum time to start showing symptoms, assuming that you got infected on the flight I think if anyone is infected thats probably when it happened.

People are just counting the time, in any way they can.


I slept for most of the day today. I seem to be sleeping a lot since I got back here. Its 7.35pm now and Ill probably be asleep by 10pm. In my whole life its very unusual for me to go to sleep before midnight. Maybe its the jet lag but weve been back almost a week now.

Ive got through most of JG Ballards short stories now Im reading about seven of those a day and Im watching loads of YouTube videos.

Ive also been walking the stairs for exercise. You can go outside. There is a garden, but its a stone garden, theres no grass or anything so Ive been walking up the stairs to my bedroom on the seventh floor its the only way I can see of getting any exercise. I dont exercise normally Im notoriously lazy but I do try to walk the hour home from my work in Wuhan if the weathers not bad, just to say that I did.

The guy who ordered the booze has got even more now. Hes getting more alcohol delivered than any reasonable person could drink every day, and he doesnt seem to drink it. I think hes hoarding it to have a party when he gets back home or something. Its weird.

My friend says hes getting really good at Fifa now and Im still keeping to myself. Everyone else seems to be fine, nobody seems to be ill, which is the main thing.


No more bacon breakfast Photograph: Nigel Roddis/PA

Some idiot has complained about the breakfasts. Up until this morning, breakfast has been really good a banging bacon and sausage sandwich. Thats the way to start the day, especially when you cant get good bacon in China. But somebody complained about always having the same thing every day so when I went downstairs for breakfast, there were these dismal-looking Danish pastries, some rubbish-looking Dutch cheese and some salami. I thought: What is this? When youre in quarantine, you dont have much to look forward to. Meals are a big thing and then the thing you look forward to has been replaced by a fairly poor effort at a continental breakfast. I dont know if breakfast is worth going down for anymore.

We got a release date. As long as nobodys showing symptoms, we can leave on Thursday morning. I feel good because I was expecting to leave the Saturday after, so thats two days gained. As of Sunday, it will become very unlikely that anyone will start to show symptoms, so we should know by then if well be leaving on Thursday.

Theres a huge gender imbalance here. There are far more men than women, and I dont think there are many single ladies, so as far as I know there are no romances blossoming. But people are organising nightly dinners now. You cant order takeaways anymore but you can still order food from supermarkets and people have started cooking in their rooms and inviting people to join. As of yet, I havent gone because I dont particularly know them and I want to stay healthy. Im not worried that Ill get ill, but it increases the chance. I sit with people I know for half an hour a day to stop me from going insane, but I think its best to keep the number of people I interact with small.


Breakfast was back to normal this morning, fortunately. Theyve done a good compromise they still had the rubbish, but they put the good stuff back as well. It gets the day off to a flying start.

Im 12 hours closer to getting out of here. I have potentially less than a week left in quarantine but it could all go wrong. If somebody develops symptoms between now and Thursday, who knows whats going to happen. We might all be back to square one potentially back to 14 days in quarantine. Nobodys actually said that but I do know that if anyone displays symptoms were not getting out of here on Thursday. And hopefully time goes quickly and they start giving us some ideas of how we get to where were going, because I only have Chinese money on me.

When I do get out, Im going to see a friend who lives not too far away, and then Ill travel down south to see my family I last saw them a year ago in Hong Kong.

Going back to Wuhan has not been discussed. The rent is paid on my apartment for a few months, so theres no rush, but Ive left my degree and teaching certificates and other things behind, so I will have to go back to Wuhan at some point. I dont think Wuhan will go back to normal for a while.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/07/ive-been-walking-stairs-for-exercise-life-under-coronavirus-quarantine