Dubai: “We are concerned and closely watching the situation,” several Chinese expatriates in the UAE told Gulf News after the first case of coronavirus was reported in the country on Wednesday.
Dubai resident Jade Zheng, a Chinese editor and translator, said: “The Chinese community here is concerned with the situation in China, and we are also raising funds as well as medical supplies to be sent as donations to Wuhan and other affected areas.
“We also believe that the Chinese authorities are doing their best to fight the epidemic,” added Zheng, whose family hails from Guangdong, which is at least 1,000-km away from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
While the day-to-day activities of Chinese expatriates are not adversely affected, a few executives have said some their business activities have either been cancelled or indefinitely postponed.
“I was supposed to leave for China tomorrow (January 30) to lead the UAE-China Investment Roadshow in Shanghai. But the event is postponed indefinitely until further notice,” said KC Cheah, 50, China-ASEAN generalist deal-maker for Fujairah Holding, told Gulf News.
“We are not raising panic but the Chinese expat community is saddened and concerned. However, we are confident the China government and the rest of the world will unite to do the right thing to overcome this menace,” added the Chinese-Malaysian expatriate.
“Moreover, we all need to be vigilant as coronavirus knows no boundaries nor race,” Cheah pointed out.
Dubai resident Wan Wen Hui, who is also chairman of the Jiangxi Business Council, added that the Chinese community is proactive in sharing vital information and debunking false reports about the coronavirus.
“The Chinese consulate, business and community leaders are making sure that everyone here is safe and we are following the advice from authorities how to mitigate the spread of the disease,” Wan shared.
Wan added that he has recently purchased around 200,000 surgical masks and scrub suits at a total cost of Dh100,000 that will be sent to Wuhan.
Chinese expats are also keeping constant communication with their family back home, even if they are far away from Wuhan.
Hong Ling Wu, 51, from the southeast Chinese province of Jiangxi, 500-km away from Wuhan, said she is in touch with her children in Shanghai and Jiangxi everyday via WeChat.
Meanwhile, a professor based in Shanghai told Gulf News that many Chinese have already cancelled their holidays abroad.
“Group travels have been cancelled, especially group tours from Wuhan of the Hubei Province,” said Chengzhang Bao, 35, Assistant Director and Associate Professor of the Middle East Studies Institute at Shanghai International Studies University.
Bao said in a WeChat message: “The mood of Chinese here (Shanghair) have been relatively stable, thanks to a rumor clarification mechanism launched by the Chinese government. I can say that the spread of panic among the Chinese community depends largely on the ability of the government in dealing with false news and rumors.”
Aid and expertise from Abu Dhabi
An Abu Dhabi based company has launched a humanitarian initiative to support healthcare personnel in China in containing the coronavirus outbreak.
Group 42, an AI and Cloud Computing company, will supply surgical masks, medical gloves, goggles and protective clothing to affected areas in China, according to UAE News Agency, WAM.
The company will also deploy its portable advanced diagnostic kits that can help in the sequencing of reagents and, eventually, find a treatment to contain the epidemic.
Peng Xiao, CEO of Group 42, said, “As the virus emergency keeps deteriorating, we felt compelled to make our expertise and resources available to those in need to try to alleviate this serious situation. Our team is working closely with our business partners to support local and foreign authorities in an effort aimed at curbing the spread of the disease and discovering a cure in the shortest possible time.”