Expats in Shanghai, the city with the largest number of foreigners on the Chinese mainland, said they feel "pretty safe" despite the novel coronavirus outbreak.
They are also satisfied with the information given by the government about the latest conditions, preventive measures and case numbers.
Jasur Mavlyanov, from Uzbekistan, said the community he has called home in suburban Songjiang district for two years conducts temperature checks on all residents and visitors at its gates, as do nearby supermarkets.
The 34-year-old, who manages a trading company, said he lives in a neighborhood where about one in three of the residents are from overseas. When they talk about the virus, they all agree that the Shanghai government has been very quick to respond and provides sufficient measures to prevent its further spread.
Mavlyanov, who lived for seven years in Wuhan, Hubei province — the contagion's epicenter — and is paying extra attention to efforts to contain the virus, said he was very touched by the united and heartwarming community atmosphere in fighting it. For example, he said one of his friends in the neighborhood bought 12,000 surgical masks to donate through various channels.
"I also know a young man from Uzbekistan who is a student at a Chinese university who flew to Guangzhou (Guangdong province) on Feb 1 to donate more than 10,000 masks to the public," Mavlyanov said.
On Feb 1, a special column on the website of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Shanghai Municipal People's Government began updating the city's expat community of about 220,000 about the latest conditions, measures taken and case numbers.
In the column, information from a daily news briefing about the epidemic in the city and reminders about preventive measures are available in Chinese, English, French, Japanese and Korean.
Yin Xin, a government spokeswoman, said expats in the city can also dial 12345 to inquire about preventive measures. This service is available in seven languages from 8 am to 8 pm daily.
Barbara Vaccaro, from Italy, who has lived with her family in Shanghai for seven years and plans to remain, said they are very impressed with the country's and the Shanghai government's efforts to care for all residents, including those from overseas.
"It looks like the local government is making a serious, well-organized effort ... Although there have been sudden changes — working from home, people wearing masks everywhere and empty restaurants — we still feel safe. It feels like a Chinese New Year break that became a bit more extreme than usual," said Vaccaro, who runs an art studio in the city.
Dubbed "a mini-United Nations", Changning district's Ronghua neighborhood is home to expats from more than 50 countries and regions. More than half of the 32,000 residents are from overseas.
Sheng Hong, director of the Ronghua neighborhood community, said that when the first confirmed infection of the novel coronavirus was announced, they raced against time to issue a public notice in English on how to prevent its spread.
Foreign volunteers in the community helped with the translation, providing special care for expats under medical observation and quarantine.
A male resident was quarantined at home for 14 days after traveling to Wuhan on business. Doctors from the district's center for disease control and prevention went to his home twice a day to take his temperature, and Sheng's team brought him food and books.
"I don't feel nervous and the epidemic prevention and control measures here are fairly standard. Being subject to 14 days of mandatory quarantine is the same as what we have in Japan," the Japanese man, who declined to be named, was quoted as saying by Xinhua News Agency.
His quarantine period expired on Jan 28. "Although 14 days seemed a little bit long, he and his family cooperated very well. They fully understand that community safety is top priority at this moment," said Sheng, adding that an Australian family of four is still under quarantine.
Some expats have joined the battle against the virus. Thomas Derksen, from Germany, who makes comedy videos in Shanghai, uploaded a clip on Jan 26 in which he talked with a medical expert from Germany to give people more information about preventing the spread of the virus. The clip, with Chinese subtitles, has been viewed millions of times on Sina Weibo.
Derksen, a former student at Fudan University in Shanghai, is fluent in Mandarin.
On Feb 1, the Foreign Affairs Office of the Shanghai Municipal Government and the Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries said they had received letters from diplomats and heads of international organizations, paying tribute to China for its determination and courage in fighting the epidemic and offering their support for the Chinese people in the battle.
"We are good friends with the lovely people of China and will stand with you in this difficult time with our hearts close together," Ramazan Parvaz, consul general of Iran in Shanghai, wrote in a letter.
On Jan 29, the Foreign Affairs Office and the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission jointly held a meeting with 105 officials from 66 consular agencies to update them on the situation in the municipality, on the measures taken to battle the coronavirus and to supply them with information about the supply of protective items, including facemasks.
After the meeting, Leisbeth Coromoto Berrios Leon, consul general of Venezuela in Shanghai, wrote in Chinese on a piece of paper, "Stay strong China."
Checks in Beijing
Meanwhile, in Beijing, home to some 200,000 expats, great attention is being paid to the health of overseas students, diplomats, foreign company employees and representatives of international organizations.
At a diplomatic residential compound in the Sanlitun area, residents must pass a temperature check before they can enter their apartments.
A manager at the compound said: "The nature of diplomats' work requires them to travel more (than others), so we have been making more efforts to monitor their health since the outbreak. Residents are also being asked about their recent travel history to prevent the virus spreading."
It's not only diplomats' health that is being closely watched. Netizen "Xiaoxingan", who lives in Wangjing New Town, a community in northeast Beijing that is home to many South Korean businessmen and restaurant owners, said the property management company has sent posters in Korean to each housing unit.
"The posters include pictures, and it's easy to judge from them that people are being reminded to wear a mask before they go out and to wash their hands frequently. I think it is thoughtful of them to do this," the 30-year-old said.
In the central business district of Guomao, home to many multinational companies and international organizations, security personnel are carrying out temperature checks. Supplies of disinfectant are also provided in many office foyers, including hand sanitizers.
On Jan 24, Beijing declared the highest level of public health emergency in response to an outbreak of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus.
On Jan 31, the Foreign Affairs Office of the People's Government of Beijing Municipality wrote a letter to all non-Chinese citizens in the city, asking them to follow official information, take precautions and seek prompt medical help if they have any symptoms such as fever, cough, tightness in the chest, or fatigue, Xinhua reported.
In the letter, the office listed 101 clinics designated to treat fever and 20 hospitals to treat pneumonia at municipal and district levels, and said these facilities would accept foreign citizens without discrimination.
In addition, the Beijing citizens' hotline 12345 is available in English, French, German, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Arabic, with the English service available 24 hours.
Earlier, the National Immigration Administration issued a guideline for foreigners in China about preventive measures against the coronavirus.
Published in English, Russian, French, German, Japanese and Korean, the guideline advises foreigners to strengthen personal protection and health monitoring, minimize outdoor activities and maintain good hygiene and health habits.
It also answers questions about immigration policies for foreigners, as well as applications for visas and residence permits.
The administration is sending related information to foreigners via email, text message and Weibo and WeChat.
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