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Tyrone man from coronavirus-hit area tells of his life in quarantine


Ben Pinkerton in the quarantine area in Arrowe Park Hospital

Ben Pinkerton in the quarantine area in Arrowe Park Hospital

Ben Pinkerton in the quarantine area in Arrowe Park Hospital

A man from Northern Ireland in quarantine as a result of the coronavirus has said it is "great to sleep and relax" after returning from the Chinese region where the outbreak started.

Ben Pinkerton (23), an English teacher from Dungannon, was on the UK evacuation flight which arrived at RAF Brize Norton on Friday, before being transferred by coach to spend 14 days in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral.

In what is his first weekend in quarantine, Mr Pinkerton said he is being "treated well" after the long trip and that the living situation isn't too different to that which he experienced during the lockdown in Wuhan where the outbreak began.

"I would say it's a lot better today than it is before, just because I have been able to rest and relax," he said.

"One thing I would say is that they are treating us really well here and anything we want they are getting it for us.

"We got a takeaway for example sent to us the other night which is good. If you need anything in particular, like for example my room mate did in terms of medicine, they are getting it to you."

Mr Pinkerton's quarantine apartment houses five individuals, with a further downstairs communal area. While there are no locks in his living area, the communal area doors appear to be kept locked most of the time.

"In terms of the living situation, in the apartment it is one person per room, unless you are part of a family," he added.

"It is very similar to the way we were isolated back in Wuhan anyway so I'm pretty used to it. We have TVs with internet access through WiFi and games consoles they have provided. I can open my windows and I can see over the exterior of the hospital.

"We can go downstairs freely but everyone wears a mask. We can't physically leave the facility. I can keep busy though, so it is not a problem.

"The staff have a text service in which they give us updates every day on how things are going. I haven't personally been in contact with many of the medics.

"Contact with my family is super easy compared to what it was in China. The family are a lot happier and more comfortable that I am back here now."

Meanwhile, Queen's University (QUB) has frozen travel for students and staff to China. Queen's has also advised those currently in China to return to the UK.

The university's registrar Jo Clague emailed the new guidance to all staff and students on Saturday. It said QUB would meet the travel costs of any students and staff in China to return to the UK. "Your wellbeing is the university's first priority," the email read.

"Please do not let any concerns about your work or studies stop you taking this advice. We, as a university, are freezing travel to China for business or study while we continue to monitor the situation."

Belfast Telegraph