Shintana Mullen and her husband Rhys were nearing the end of a two-year stint teaching English in South Korea. But a last-minute meet up with a friend visiting from China led to an experience they’ll never forget.
“Our school asked, ‘did anyone go to China for the holiday or did you meet with anyone from China?’. So we were honest and told them we met with a friend from China and that was the wrong answer.” Mullen said.
School officials weren’t taking any chances, ordering them into a two-week quarantine.
“We lived at our school at an apartment above our school and so they just told us don’t come downstairs, don’t come to work and don’t talk to any of the other teachers.” said Mullen
“It was very alienating. It was just a strange experience to be told don’t talk to anyone.” added Mullen.
Initially caught off guard by the demand, Mullen now understands why the extreme measures were taken.
“To be honest at first it seemed like an overreaction and almost like we were being punished. Now it makes a lot more sense and I think the reaction was pretty rationale.” said Mullen
South Korea is now declaring a “Red Alert” after 169 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, bringing their total to more than 600.
Italy’s also seeing a spike in cases, up to more than 150 in just a matter of days. And in China, where it all began, at least 76,000 cases have been confirmed. But experts say there’s another country to keep an eye on.
“I find it much more concerning when we talk about a country like Iran. Where this epidemic has obviously grown to quite large proportions invisibly, with nobody noticing. Or perhaps people have noticed but aren’t saying anything about it.” said Dr. David Fisman, a Professor of Epidemiology.
A Canadian woman tested positive this week after returning from Iran. And Air Canada is now warning travelers that a passenger on a flight from Montreal to Vancouver on Valentine’s Day has COVID-19, as the outbreak continues to spread.