Two British citizens have “self-quarantined” after returning from China amid coronavirus fears.
Lauren Bath, 26, and Katie Davis, 27, both from Worcestershire, placed themselves in isolation after returning to the UK this last week.
China’s health commission reported on Sunday there have been 361 deaths and more than 17,205 cases of the deadly virus, after the outbreak began in December.
Ms Bath was visiting Ms Davis, a nursery teacher living in Shenzhen, at the end of January, when they were forced to cut their trip to Beijing short.
Ms Bath told the PA news agency: “I was due to fly home on January 30, but woke up to a call the day before at 7am.
“I was told I had to come home immediately.”
Ms Bath flew home to the UK, while Ms Davis returned to her flat in Shenzhen. However, the virus continued to spread, with more than 500 cases reported in the Shenzhen area.
Ms Davis compared her town to a “post-apocalyptic zombie movie”.
She said: “My school was closed, although they said it will reopen on February 17, I have also been told this is very optimistic. I wasn’t leaving the flat, and when I did go out the streets were deserted.”
Although her town was not locked down, residents were encouraged not to go outdoors, and to wear a facemask when they did so.
“My flatmate developed a cold and then I heard the British embassy was evacuating all non-essential staff. That was when I decided to come home,” she said.
As a last-minute flight home cost more than £1,000, her friend set up a fundraiser to help with the cost. She arrived home at 7am on Monday.
“Everyone on the flight home was wearing face masks, we only took them off to eat. It was not a relaxing environment, knowing you could be on a flight with someone who has the virus, with the air being recirculated.
“My dad picked me up from the airport, but I did everything I could to avoid contact. We didn’t touch, and I wore a facemask the whole way home.
“I sat in the back, trying to put as much space between us. No-one else touched my suitcase either.”
The women are now avoiding all contact with members of their family and the public, wearing facemasks when going outside, and using antibacterial sprays and wipes.
Ms Bath, who works in a medical setting, is working from home to reduce infection risks.
She said: “We are taking each other’s temperatures every day, and avoiding close contact with anyone.”
More than 90 British citizens have been evacuated from the city of Wuhan, which was placed in lock-down a week ago.
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have both grounded flights to mainland China, with up 35,000 passengers believed to be affected.