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February 20, 2020

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City not leaving foreigners high and dry amid crisis

SHORT of face masks? Nowhere to buy groceries? In the Pudong New Area, concerns of expats remaining in Shanghai during the coronavirus outbreak are being addressed.

Jin Yun, a social worker helping expats in Lianyang community, said the biggest concern expats initially had was the shortage of face masks.

Unlike their Chinese neighbors who could register online to buy face masks with their ID cards, foreigners were not able to register with their passports.

However, the problem was soon addressed, and foreigners can now register to buy face masks with their passports.

Another problem for some expats was the inability to buy food. Certain supermarkets have been closed and many foreigners had little-to-no experience using Chinese apps to order groceries.

After social workers reported the problem to exit-entry administration authorities, Pudong’s agriculture commission launched an English version of its “PDA Fresh” grocery service.

‘Just bored’

Mitch Kraan, a Canadian working in Shanghai for the past year, said the greatest inconvenience has been the inability to go to his favorite restaurants.

“I cook for myself now, and although there isn’t as much food, there’s enough,” he said. “The two supermarkets I go to are still open.”

Kraan said many of his fellow expats are just bored right now since they can’t attend any social events.

“I’m hopeful the situation will get better soon, so I’m staying here,” he said.

In the Pudong New Area, some foreigners have donated face masks purchased in their native countries to China, including businessman Mallouk Marwan, who bought 750,000 surgical masks in Syria and donated them to Hubei Province.

To alleviate boredom, some expats have been working as community volunteers, sharing news with fellow expats.

Visa help

Xi Min’ou, vice director of Pudong’s exit-entry administration office, said they has received a number of calls about visa issues and is providing advice.

In one case, a Filipino university teacher who had traveled home for the holiday was concerned about his visa, since direct flights to China had been canceled. His visa expires at the end of February and he had no idea what to do. Xi put the Filipino’s mind at ease by advising him to enter China from another country. Prior to traveling, Xi suggested he apply online with the bureau of foreign experts affairs for an extension of his work permit before returning to renew his work permit and visa.


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