Chinese community group aids self-quarantined Windsorites amid coronavirus outbreak
Picking up groceries or even a pet — these volunteers are helping however they can
Members of Windsor Ont.'s Chinese community are running errands for those who recently returned from China that have voluntarily self-quarantined themselves at home amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Although these travellers are not coming from Wuhan — the epicentre of the virus — they are choosing to stay home based on recommendations by authorities in China.
Fred Xu spent part of his Thursday night shopping for soy milk, cucumbers and fresh chicken for someone who isn't leaving their apartment for roughly two weeks. If they exhibit no symptoms after that time, it's believed they don't have the virus.
"The current coronavirus is impacting a lot of people and people want to protect the most people in Windsor. We don't want [what's] happening in China, happening here," said Xu.
Ally Xiao started the group about two weeks ago because she felt she needed to help somehow.
"They know we care about them," said Xiao. "The support they're getting, they feel like we have to band together to fight this [virus]."
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of the coronavirus an emergency of "international concern" on Jan. 30, after it was first reported from Wuhan late last year. Canadian officials stress that the risk of contracting the virus in this country remains low, though the government warns against all travel to the coronavirus-affected region of China.
If you think you have been exposed to the coronavirus — for example, if you have travelled to Wuhan and are having symptoms — the Public Health Agency of Canada advises avoiding contact with others and following up with your health-care professional.
Xiao said she believes Chinese people in the community are being misunderstood.
"Every Chinese [person] who didn't travel — we're as healthy as the other people in Canada," she said, explaining that just because people are wearing masks does not mean they are sick.
"We like to put the mask on because the high pollution in China," said Xiao. "In the certain seasons everybody wears a mask ... that this is just the habit."
To avoid contact with others, those returning to Windsor from China are communicating through the social media app WeChat. That's how volunteers like Xu find out what they might need.
Xu isn't paid for the service. He shops for people and delivers their groceries after work.
"I'm glad. I always try to do something to help other people," said Xu.
To minimize contact, Xu leaves the items outside or in the lobby until they're picked up.
Earlier this week, he re-united a woman who recently came back from China with her dog. He left the canine behind a locked gate, and was later thanked by the owner through social media.
"She's very thankful for that. She was very worried about the dog," said Xu.
Xu is from Shanghai and hasn't been back to China since 2018. But he has a lot of friends and family in that region. Although they aren't near Wuhan, Xu said there's still concern.
"I'm very sad because nobody wants to get the virus, nobody wants to get sick," he said.
With files from Kaitie Fraser