Brunei student Abdul Najib bin Haji Ladi, successfully evacuated from Wuhan last weekend, shared his experiences of being in the Chinese city placed under lockdown since January 24, due to the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus.
The 28-year-old had been studying new energy science and engineering at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan’s Hongshan District since 2018, after he was selected for the Chinese Scholarship Council by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
Communicating through WhatsApp from the National Isolation Centre in the Tutong District where he is quarantined, Abdul Najib recalled, “When the virus was first discovered (December 31, 2019-January 1), it wasn’t that intense. We were still going out, as usual.
“However when the situation took a turn for the worse, we were all rushing to buy/stock up on groceries and necessities.
“I was staying at my university hostel. Under lockdown, the city grew deadly silent. We were all told to be indoors, to contain the outbreak.” Abdul Najib was alone, as his Indonesian roommate had gone home for the holidays before the outbreak occurred.
“Emotionally, it was quite stressful for me to stay cooped up for so long and having hardly any interaction with other people, apart from video calls with my family,” he said.
“There was constant fear as well, given the increasing number of infections on a daily basis. Fortunately, I had enough food with me. The apartment management also helped us to get more food.
“We all feared that we would run out of food supplies, as Wuhan was placed under lockdown. “
Abdul Najib also kept in constant touch with Brunei officials since January 24. “They called me every day to get updates on my health status,” he said. “On January 28, they informed me through WeChat about an evacuation plan, and gave details of the operation.
“On February 7, they came to my university to pick me up. I was finally on my way home.”
He was then placed on board a Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) flight with a fellow Bruneian who had also been stranded in Wuhan. They arrived in Bandar Seri Begawan at 2.45am, on February 8. Abdul Najib expressed his gratitude to the Brunei Government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and the Embassy of Brunei Darussalam in China for helping to evacuate them from Wuhan.
“I also thank my family, friends and the public for their prayers and sympathies. I also pray that Brunei will be protected from the coronavirus,” he said.