An American stuck in the locked down city of Wuhan, China – the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak – has described it as ‘something out of a sci-fi movie.’
Doug Perez, 28, a native of San Francisco, California, says he was offered a seat on the recent charter flight that transported 195 US citizens back home on Wednesday.
But Perez, who teaches English, says he declined the offer because he would have to leave behind his girlfriend, a Chinese citizen, and their dog.
This makes him one of the around 1,000 Americans left behind as the infection continues to spread, sickening nearly 8,000 people worldwide.
Doug Perez, 28 (pictured), of San Francisco, California, teaches English in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak
Perez (left) was offered a seat on a charter flight that transported 195 Americans back to the US but declined because he’d had to leave behind his Chinese girlfriend. He says he rarely leaves his apartment except to walk his Labrador dog (right)
‘A lot of foreigners are stuck here,’ Perez told the Associated Press. ‘There is no way on Earth many of us, including myself, are going to leave our loved ones.’
Perez says he rarely leaves his apartment unless it’s to walk his dog, a Labrador named Chubby, after fitting him with a mask.
‘Whenever we leave [the home], we bring the dog,’ he told Fox News Rundown. ‘So we only take him out for walks. That’s the extent of us leaving.’
Perez said that during one of the instances and he and his girlfriend left, to go to the grocery store to get food, they had their respective temperatures checked outside.
‘We’re lining up to have our temperature tested in one of those temperature guns. It’s like something out of a sci-fi movie,’ he told host Dave Anthony.
Since the outbreak began in December 2019, more than 8,000 people worldwide have been infected with the virus and 170 people – all in China – have died.
Five cases have been confirmed in the US: Maricopa County, Arizona; Orange County and Los Angeles County, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Snohomish County, Washington.
On January 23, authorities announced that planes, trains and buses leaving Wuhan were canceled. Tollways on roads out of the city were also shut down.
Additionally, all public transportation within the city would be suspended, including buses, subways and ferries.
The lockdown has since expanded to 17 cities, affecting 50 million people.
The day the lockdown was announced, Perez and his girlfriend got in a fight – ‘a plate was destroyed’ – over whether to venture to a supermarket to buy food.
His girlfriend, who doesn’t want to be named, won the argument, and the couple began ordering food online.
The streets went quiet. They stay in every night, spending hours a day on social media checking up on the latest news and fielding calls from worried relatives.
On Tuesday, a charter flight transported 195 Americans – mainly diplomats and their families – out of Wuhan.
The plane refueled in Anchorage, Alaska, before touching drown at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California around 8am PST on Wednesday.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the passengers are being monitored and are under a voluntarily 72-hour quarantine.
Perez (pictured) and his girlfriend had their temperatures checked outside of a grocery store in what he describes as ‘something out of a sci-fi movie’
Because no one can enter or exit Wuhan, Perez says the hospitals are overcrowded and many can’t get the medical treatment they need.
‘Even the government made an official announcement in Chinese saying that…if you’re “a little bit sick, do not come to the hospitals, we’re overrun,”‘ he told Fox News Rundown.
‘They need supplies. It’s a disaster.’
Several healthcare workers and hospitals in China have asked for respiratory masks and protective suits to help them treating a rising number of cases.
Perez, who is healthy, added that he’s worried about supplies running out, especially food.
‘It wouldn’t surprise me if there are some problems in the future, especially, you know, food shortages or civil unrest,’ he said.