Teacher warns over China travel as mother separated from child in quarantine

The teacher said she felt schools were ‘glossing over’ the traumatic experience expats returning to the country might face.

Passengers makeshift hazmat suits at an airport in Shanghai
Passengers makeshift hazmat suits at an airport in Shanghai

A British schoolteacher has warned her peers against returning to China, saying parents and young children are being separated in quarantine.

She said that one of her colleagues who tested positive for coronavirus had her three-year-old child taken from her.

The child’s mother, who is also from the UK, has been left “broken” by the separation, her colleague at an international school told the PA news agency.

Cabin crew on a flight to Shanghai (Jane/PA)

The teacher, 35, from East Anglia, who does not want to be identified for fear of losing her job and repercussions from the Chinese authorities, said she felt schools were “glossing over” the traumatic experience expats returning to the country might face.

She and her partner were put into different hotel rooms and given two small bottles of water for their three-night quarantine when they flew back to Shanghai last week.

But she said that “unpleasant” experience paled in comparison with children being taken from their parents.

The woman, who has chosen to be known as Jane, said children aged over 13 were being held in rooms separate from their parents at the quarantine facility she stayed in over the weekend.

She said her colleague’s three-year-old had been taken because she had tested positive.

Officials at an airport in Shanghai where passengers have their temperature checked (Jane/PA)

Jane told PA: “My advice would be do not travel unless you absolutely have to.

“We were pressured in a very passive aggressive way (by the school) to return, strongly advised I think is probably the best term for it.

“I definitely would not, especially hearing the stories of the families in our hotel that had young children, I would not put children through it.

“It was so tough and so traumatic for us to go through it as adults, and to have my partner in the other room.

“The idea of a child being in a room on their own, not being able to perhaps eat the food or have water, I think it’s completely inhumane, and for our schools to kind of be glossing over that you may be treated like this.”

Jane said her colleague had been able to arrange for a friend in Shanghai who is known to the child to look after them in quarantine, instead of a Chinese volunteer, which she said was the arrangement offered initially.

Jane added that her 104-hour experience, from landing in the city last week on a flight with fellow passengers in makeshift hazmat suits, to finally being released from the quarantine hotel on Monday, had been enough to put her off ever coming back to the country.

“This experience 100% has put me off ever being in China,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll ever return to China again.”

The couple are currently locked in their apartment for a further 10 days before their isolation period is over – something Jane said is a “luxury” compared with their experience at the hotel, which they described as being like a prison.

She said: “My partner said all that was missing was the handcuffs, that’s how he felt.

“Some people think you’re in a nice hotel room so you could relax, and just wait, and actually you can’t relax. I didn’t sleep for the first two days because you don’t know what’s going on.”

The Foreign Office currently advises Britons against all non-essential international travel, and warns that refusing to comply with testing or procedures in China carries the risk of a three-year prison sentence.

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