Trapped in Hubei: A family under unexpected quarantine

I thought it would be the usual once-a-year happy journey home for my family when we boarded the high-speed train to go to my hometown, Wuhan, on January 20.

We knew there was this outbreak of a new coronavirus in Wuhan that had killed about 10 people, but there was no warning at all and it was mostly seen as another flu virus.

The temptation of the Spring Festival family reunion was just too irresistible for us, so we decided to wear our masks and go home.

When we arrived at Wuhan station, we found there were thousands of travellers like us. The station was totally packed and there were long queues at every boarding gate, the typical festival travel rush scene you see every year. Only a few travellers were wearing masks like we were. Most had decided not to bother or had not even thought about it.

As planned, we changed trains in Wuhan to go to our final destination – Yangxin, a small county about 180 kilometres (112 miles) away from Hubei’s capital city and home to my parents-in-law.

Everything was festive: the laughter of my kids and in-laws, the familiar feast of hometown food and playing mahjong after dinner.

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