‘The unknown is really scary’: Westport man flying home from Asia to avoid coronavirus

12 on 12: Vaccine 101

WESTPORT, Mass. (WPRI) ─ As the concern for a new strain of coronavirus grows, a Westport man is one of many travelers trying to evade the virus.

Kyle Ponte has been working in Shanghai, China the past few months. His cousin is a producer for Eyewitness News.

While not in what’s being dubbed as the epicenter of the virus, in Wuhan, China, Ponte says he’s noticed more and more people start to take precautions.

Wuhan has been put on lock-down, along with several other cities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the virus has been reported in more than a dozen countries, including the United States, where at least five cases have been reported. 

Ponte says a friend came to visit him in Shanghai within the last week when he started to notice how serious the concern for the virus was getting.

“She showed up, and it was the worst possible week she could have came to China,” Ponte said. “It was pretty much like a ghost town. It was quiet, and Shanghai is normally a crazy busy city.”

Ponte has been to China several times and says while people are known to wear masks, he’s never noticed it like this before. He and his friend left to vacation in Thailand hoping to avoid getting sick, only to find out it had been reported there, too.

“The craziest thing was just trying to enjoy our time on this vacation and going to a restaurant, or bar or club, and people scanning you, checking your temperature as you walk in,” Ponte said.

Ponte says he and his friend have been taking as many health precautions as possible, like constantly washing their hands or wearing their face masks.

“You don’t know when you could be exposed to it which is the scary part is the unknown is really scary,” Ponte said.

Ponte says after getting to Thailand, his next goal was to return back to the United States, even if it meant leaving the majority of his belongings in Shanghai. However, Ponte says getting a flight out proved to be difficult.

“They were actually canceling flights, so [we were] pretty much kind of stuck here,” Ponte said. “We ended up having to spend a lot of money for a one-way ticket, and all of our stuff is still in Shanghai, so we’re just gonna leave that there.”

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