Darwin’s Jayde Hopkins is making her way back to Australia after the outbreak of the coronavirus. She had been in Hong Kong for a university drama program. Picture: Jayde Hopkins
Darwin’s Jayde Hopkins is making her way back to Australia after the outbreak of the coronavirus. She had been in Hong Kong for a university drama program. Picture: Jayde Hopkins

Aussies flee for home as coronavirus fear spreads

TERRITORIANS caught up in the coronavirus chaos overseas are returning home as the disease continues to spread around the globe.

Darwin's Jayde Hopkins is one of a handful of Territorians in the affected region who have fled or are preparing to leave.

Ms Hopkins had been in Hong Kong for two-and-a-half weeks for a university drama program.

She was forced to cut her five-week trip short after her program was cancelled earlier this week due to the coronavirus.

She said the usually bustling city had turned into a ghost town as people stayed indoors to avoid contact with sick people.

She made the decision to leave in case flights in and out of the city were shut down.

Roads are almost empty of motorists in Hong Kong as people stay indoors to avoid contact with sick people. Picture: Jayde Hopkins
Roads are almost empty of motorists in Hong Kong as people stay indoors to avoid contact with sick people. Picture: Jayde Hopkins

"For fears of safety and possibly getting trapped here if they decide to lock down the city, I have decided to leave," she said.

"It has been very eerie over the past week watching the city change from hustle and bustle to nearly a ghost town.

"I saw people fighting outside a pharmacy in a panic to purchase masks for protection. I've even seen people wearing masks while driving.

Ms Hopkins, who is from Darwin but is studying in Melbourne, returned on Thursday, and is in isolation by herself as a precaution.

"I'm not too afraid of becoming infected myself but I'm terrified I'll be an asymptomatic carrier and accidentally pass it on to others when I land in Australia," she said.

"As a microbiology student it's fascinating and terrifying to see everything unfold so close to the epicentre of the outbreak."

Darwin resident Luo Luo has been in Kunming City more than 1500km from the virus' epicentre in Wuhan but said the Chinese government had been broadcasting preventive messages and training to the public via television, online and on shopping centre screens.

 

A very empty looking Hong Kong street. Picture: Jayde Hopkins
A very empty looking Hong Kong street. Picture: Jayde Hopkins

"China is doing extremely good preventive work here," she said.

She said when she was back in Darwin she would drive herself home and stay in isolation for a fortnight.

Darwin Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis and his wife Amy Yu-Vatskalis were in China for new year celebrations and to visit her mother.

They arrived back in Darwin earlier this week, with Mr Vatskalis stating: "I'm very pleased not to wear a bloody mask."