Despite the growing public concern toward novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a Canadian woman reportedly decided to remain in Wuhan, China so she can be with her pet cat.
Wuhan, the city in Hubei province where the virus originated, has been placed under lockdown as the virus began spreading last month.
Among those trapped in Wuhan is Kristina Shramko, who reportedly chose to stay in the city even before the lockdown was implemented as she did not want to part with her cat, Kitya.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Shramko moved to Wuhan over a year ago after meeting her boyfriend during her month-long trip there.
She had initially registered herself to be evacuated when Canadian authorities started to charter flights back to Canada, but she was forced to stay due to the strict no-pet policy, Business Insider reports.
“I don’t know when the epidemic will be over so it’s kind of abandoning her in a way, even if I give her to a friend,” Shramko was quoted as saying.
Since the lockdown, the Chinese government has shut down all transportation in and out of Hubei province, effectively placing over 50 million people under quarantine.
Even Shramko’s boyfriend, who was not in Wuhan at the time of the shutdown, is currently staying with his family in another province as he isn’t allowed to return.
Streets in Wuhan are currently under constant patrol of police officers to ensure residents and establishments comply with the quarantine rules and regulations.
While Shramko can go out of her apartment in Wuhan, she is required to wear a mask and her temperature must be checked by officers.
Describing how it felt living in quarantine, Shramko shared that the lack of human interaction for a month can take a toll on a person mentally.
“It’s pretty much a ghost town outside,” she noted. “I live directly across from a huge mall and this mall was always packed with people. Even the street to get into the mall’s parking lot was always busy. Now, there are no cars at all and nobody outside.”
Shramko says she spends most of her time watching movies via a Chinese version of Netflix, reading books, playing with Kitya and making YouTube videos.
She also regularly communicates with her boyfriend and her family back in Canada.
“They update me on what they’re hearing about the coronavirus in Canada and I let them know what’s going on in China,” she added.
While the Chinese government has extended foreigner visas due to the lockdown, many of those in quarantine are running out of funds to spend for their daily needs.
“Nobody is working right now so there is no income,” Shramko shared. “I’m trying to save as much money as possible since we don’t know when all of this will be over.”
While the lockdown did not bother her initially, the gravity of the situation eventually dawned on her.
“In my mind, a super contagious and deadly virus just didn’t seem real,” she said. “It seemed like something you only saw in movies. After a few weeks, it really kicked in that this was a serious matter.”
According to Shramko, she now understands the situation and trusts that the Chinese government is doing what it can in handling the virus.
“I can’t say that I’ve put all my faith in the Chinese government, but I can say that they are doing their best,” she went on. “It’s a highly contagious virus, so it’s hard to control.”
Shramko’s wish is for the government to allow her to take her cat on the plane so she can finally return to Canada.
“She’s been there for me throughout this whole quarantine,” Shramko said. “I should be there for her too.”
Shramko has set up a GoFundMe
to raise $2,500 to help her and Kitya return to Vancouver.