KOLKATA: One could call it a sense of helplessness associated with being forced to stay away from family when things are not quite alright at home. A section of technicians and engineers from China who are stuck in Kolkata prefer to call it guilt, though. Some of them were supposed to return to China by now but could not travel as all flights to the country have been cancelled due to Covid-19 scare.
“I accompanied some project cargo to India when nobody was even aware of the virus. My work is nearly done here and I would like to be with my family at this time of crisis. Though the Chinese government is doing everything possible, I feel guilty for staying at a place that is considerably safe. My home is a few hundred kilometres from Wuhan and I am in constant touch with my family,” one of them said.
Another engineer said that the Chinese consulate has provided all assistance but news from home is not always available. “What we see on television or read in newspapers or online is scary. Our families say there are several restrictions on movement. Even our families have little information about what is going on around them. Even they can’t say when the situation will improve. We feel helpless,” he said.
The companies where the engineers and technicians work have also been issued restrictions by the Chinese government and are not giving out much information. “We heard that nearly 2,000 people are dead in China. The figure could be higher. While we are in touch with our immediate families, not much information is available on other relatives. There are restrictions on movement in our country to prevent spread of the virus,” a technician said.
Another one spoke of how a relative who had fever was quarantined till the test results came out to be negative. His family back home and others in the area are facing severe restrictions as there has been an outbreak in a region nearby. He attempted to fly to another country and then enter China but failed.
“Information is scarce. My family does not want to say much as they don’t want me to worry. From friends, I came to know that people in my neighbourhood are being allowed to leave for shopping only once for two hours in two-three days,” he said.