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'Wuhan is a ghost city': Video reveals life in a coronavirus lockdown

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Charles Germain
Charles Germain   -   Copyright  Charles Germain (26 January 2020)
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Deserted streets, shuttered shops, and the odd car: welcome to life at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

Video filmed by a Frenchman in Wuhan — where the virus originated — reveals the reality of living in a lockdown.

Charles, who arrived just two days before the restrictions were put in place, said Wuhan now represented "a ghost city".

“I’ve been coming here for almost 10 years and there is little to no-one in the streets compared to usual," said Charles, who filmed the footage on Sunday.

"We go outside only once every two or three days. Supermarkets are open and there is no real shortage of food here.

"We are relatively worried and most people are... taking it seriously now".

More than 50 million people remain under a government lockdown in central China.

Arek Rataj/AP Photo
People wearing face masks walk down a deserted street in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province.Arek Rataj/AP Photo

Coming home

European countries have stepped up efforts to contain the virus, sending chartered planes to evacuate hundreds of citizens and cancelling more commercial flights to Chinese destinations.

French health minister, Agnès Buzyn, said that an initial flight for asymptomatic French nationals - a military aircraft with medical personnel aboard - was to leave France on Wednesday night for Wuhan. It is expected to return on Friday.

Charles explained that he was hopeful of returning to France on a chartered flight with medical teams.

“I decided to leave for personal reasons because I had a chance to take the evacuation plane for France.

“I feel it is much safer for me than using any other airport in China or around the world [because there are medical teams on board].”

A second flight for other French citizens and Europeans who wish to leave is planned. Those repatriated must undergo 14 days of confinement back in France.'

'There is really no need to panic, just be careful'

“It’s hard to believe but it is quite safe for us now", said Charles on Sunday.

"When you go outside, there are no crowds so there is very little risk of coming into contact with people, and the spread of the germs might be limited”.

“I’ve covered all my body, from my feet to my hands and face. This might be excessive, I don’t know how efficient it is, but I don’t want to take any risk”.

“We have disinfected our clothes, using wet wipes, and we try not to contact things that could be infected like outside door handles”.

“People are quite safe as long as they stay at home and limit the amount of time they go outside”.

Charles also had a message for other countries who might be hearing news about Wuhan from afar.

“We just want to make sure that people are aware it is serious here and it could be serious in your area."

“There is no need to panic, but just be careful and watch for the news and information”.