Long time friend and former colleague, Darren ‘Butch’ Burchall joined millions in what is now a masked community in what he described as a coronavirus panic in China.

The well known Bermudian resides with his wife in Shenzhen, where he works, which is right on the boarder of Hong Kong.

When contacted by Bermuda Real on Thursday he said it was literally “panic overnight”.

“The whole city began wearing face masks,” he said.

“People are going about their day-to-day lives as normal but there  has been a noticeable increase in people wearing masks.

“We went across the boarder to Hong Kong yesterday and even over there everyone had started wearing masks.

“If you cough everyone looks at you,” he added.

“It’s Chinese New Year and it’s the only time that the labour force actually have a long holiday, so the train stations are jammed packed.

“Everyone leaves the cities where they work to go home to their local towns.”

Asked whether or not he was fearful or worried about this deadly virus, he said: “I am a bit concerned and we’re just going to stay home.

“We are off for three weeks for Chinese New Year celebrations and we’ve got a holiday booked to Boracay, so I’m a bit worried about getting on a plane.”

“I was just telling my sister that on the train from Hong Kong today that a guy was coughing and everyone just looked at him.
“A lady with her baby moved to another car. People are worried but trust the Government and the health system.”
Mr Burchall noted that he was working in Brazil when the Zika virus outbreak.
“Now I’m in China and this drops – I am moving to Timbuktu or some far, far away land.”
He also noted that the SARS outbreak was different.
“Back then there was no social media,” said Mr Burchall.
“The proliferation of social media has made disseminating information more efficient and people are taking precautions.
“My wife and I were in Macau and Hong Kong for a couple of days, but we are now back home and staying inside.
“And I am afraid to cough in public now!”
But he said the people remember SARS.
And on that note he said: “They are worried – very worried!”
The Bermuda News Syndicate will be speaking with Darren ‘Butch’ Burchall live from China on Friday morning on Fresh TV, streaming on Facebook around the globe.