Coronavirus: Self-quarantined family shunned as neighbour calls 911 on them

Oliver O'Connell

A California family in self-quarantine over the coronavirus after a visit to China have found themselves shunned, and even had the police called on them.

Amy Deng and her eight-year-old daughter, Daisy, have no symptoms, but following a trip to visit family in Guangzhou over Chinese New Year, they are in self-quarantine monitored by local officials in Santa Rosa, The East Bay Times reports.

Ms Deng has closed up her acupuncture and herbal medicine practice with a neighbouring tenant not even allowing her through the shared lobby to pick up client records for fear of the virus.

Daisy has been home-schooled for two weeks and is missing out on seeing her school friends, who FaceTime to stay in touch.

Ms Deng has said she is “frustrated and angry and upset”.

“I used to think I was a strong woman, but at some point I feel like I’m just fragile.”

It has been a rough few years for Ms Deng and her family. In 2017 they lost their house, winery and cat in the Tubbs Fire; in October a grandparent passed away; and in November Ms Deng and her husband divorced.

Now they find themselves caught up in the panic over coronavirus and feel like outcasts.

Charles Johnston, Ms Deng’s ex-husband has described the situation as “bizonkers”.

The couple have lived apart since the divorce, with Mr Johnston working on rebuilding the winery. Daisy lives with him and so the family is therefore being monitored in both Sonoma and Napa counties.

The police were called by a neighbour who saw Daisy getting into Mr Johnston’s car and worried that she might spread the disease. Ms Deng said of that moment: “All of this is too much for me.”

Mr Johnston was not on the trip to China, but arranged their travel home to San Francisco via Seoul and greeted them with a big hug.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies Ms Deng and her daughter as at “medium risk” simply because they were in mainland China. They are not known to have come into contact with any sick people, and were 600 miles from Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak.

The CDC has advised avoiding public spaces and activities and to practise “social distancing”.

Both Daisy and Ms Deng have to monitor their temperature and report any symptoms twice a day. Mr Johnston is not considered to be exposed and has no quarantine restrictions or reporting obligations. Their quarantine period ends on 18 February.

As of Tuesday there have been 73,451 documented cases of coronavirus, 98 per cent in Mainland China, and 1,875 deaths.

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