A YORKSHIREMAN living in China has shared his experience of coronavirus with The Northern Echo.

Christian Austin, from Catterick, has been “heavily affected” by the virus, forced to work from home inside a gated community where he is unable to leave without a pass, but remains optimistic.

“In China we all live in gated communities,” he said.

“No residents can leave unless they have a pass, and our temperatures are checked everywhere we go.

“We can go out for essentials but that’s all. It’s been like this for over two weeks now.”

The Northern Echo: Christian Austin wearing a black protective mask.Christian Austin wearing a black protective mask.

The 45-year-old, who lives in Qinhuangdao, said he is “not distressed at all”.

Coastal city Qinhuangdao is two hours away from Beijing and around a 14-hour drive from Wuhan.

“We’re quite far from the epicentre, the virus hasn’t got to grips too much with this city. We have had nine confirmed cases, no deaths and one recovery. We are, however, confined to our apartments and working from home.”

The Northern Echo: Streets are normally busy at 8pm, but they are emptyStreets are normally busy at 8pm, but they are empty

Due to a new definition for diagnosis, there has been a spike in coronavirus cases.

On Wednesday, February 13, China had a national death toll above 1,350, with around 60,000 infections.

Mr Austin’s neighbour, an elderly woman with pre-existing lung problems, is being treated for the virus. He has not been updated on her health.

Despite being in proximity of a case, he is not worried.

The Northern Echo: Mapping of coronavirus cases across the globe. Credit: Early alert MapsMapping of coronavirus cases across the globe. Credit: Early alert Maps

The general manager, who has been living in China for eight years, said: “The problem is being dealt with very well.

“What I read from the national newspapers, there is a lot of scaremongering and blame but it is a lot of speculation. Until you see what is going on really, it would not be right to speculate.

“I have no intention of going home as that could only make things worse. The virus needs to be contained, not spread around the globe. Other people have left, and that is a decision that they can make and is supported by our company. But I am happy here.

My Austin’s employer has also supplied its workforce with protective masks, which he has helped to deliver to staff, along with care packages.

“It’s not dangerous as long as you take precautions,” he said.

“My staff live around the town. For them to get essentials, someone needs to deliver them. I delivered salaries too when we got paid.

“If I have a mask, cover my eyes and wash when I get back, I should be ok. Some of the packages come from our employer but I also pay for some things as a show of appreciation. It’s not for me. It’s for my staff.

“Someone has to keep a level head around here, keep people grounded and restore normality.”

The Northern Echo: Christian Austin delivers care packages to his staff.Christian Austin delivers care packages to his staff.

It takes Mr Austin around an hour to to see everyone using his electric bike, but only can meet them over the barrier to their gated community. There’s only one entrance in and out of each community and a pass is needed to get in.

The Yorkshireman praised five doctors who recently recovered from the virus and have gone straight back to work.

Supermarkets in Qinhuangdao are still open, and “mostly fully stocked”, but have limited opening times. Most restaurants and other businesses are closed.

People are also restricted from gathering in large groups.

There have been 25 countries affected by the virus so far, with a global count of 60,368 confirmed cases and 1,369 deaths – a death rate of 2.3%.