A woman from Union found herself unable to return to her home in China after a vacation due to concerns about the spreading of coronavirus. When she finally arrived home, she discovered a very different way of life than when she left.

Amanda Barrows graduated from Medomak Valley High School and is currently living in Wuxi, China. She works as a kindergarten teacher at a Montessori school.

Barrows traveled to Indonesia for a scheduled three-week vacation. She was actually gone for more than six weeks.

The day of her scheduled return, Barrows got an email from the airport that her flight was canceled. She could not find another flight because no airports were flying in to China.

The Chinese company she works for, My Kids, initially told her to just stay where she was.

After another three weeks, Barrows was finally able to get a flight to Thailand. From there she flew to Shanghai. She said she had to schedule flights directly by phone because so many flights to China are being canceled.

When she finally arrived in China, Barrows said it was “kind of eerie.” Shanghai, usually a busy and bustling city, was empty. “There was nobody in the streets,” she said.

Many people in China were told they must stay home. Some have not left their homes for months now.

At the airport, Barrows said immigration was easy. “There were no lines,” she said. The only place that had lines was the health inspection station, where doctors and people in hazmat suits checked people for illness.

There are currently guards in the streets and at apartment buildings to make sure people stay in their homes. Barrows said it was easier to get through the airport and the train station than into her apartment.

Initially the guard at her building did not believe she lived there. She was only allowed to go to her home once she proved that was her residence, and had her temperature taken.

“Now I’m at home in quarantine,” said Barrows. She has not been able to leave her apartment since she arrived home Feb. 23, and still has another week before she can leave.

She has been teaching kids through online courses. Her students have also not been able to leave their homes to attend school.

Barrows said it sounds like the Chinese government is trying to “get things under wraps.” They lowered some measures and the situation is getting better.

Still, it will be April before people will be allowed back to work, and even then everyone must wear masks and have their temperatures monitored.

Barrows has to report to her employer twice a day with her location and current temperature. “I was paranoid at first,” she said. “What if my temperature is higher than normal?”

She said there was a minor scare initially because she had an elevated temperature, but it turned out not to be an illness.

Barrows said the Chinese government is enforcing a lot of rules. Anyone leaving their homes has to wear masks. Guards and health officials are at train stations and buildings checking temperatures and looking for signs of illness.

Anyone with a fever must report it and go to a hospital, Barrows said.

“I couldn’t believe it at first,” Barrows said of the safety measures. “I feel it’s invasive, but the people here are more used to that. Everyone got used to these measures once they were put in place… For me, it was simply a bit overwhelming jumping into it all."

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