Two Cape Town drag queens, who are working in China, say they are trapped in their homes as cities are on lockdown amid an outbreak of the deadly Corona virus.
Zilin Ayoki Zhang, from Mitchells Plain, moved to China last July to teach English, while Camille Von Zuush, from Wellington, joined her in September.
Both have previously won the prestigious Miss Gay Western Cape pageant - Zilin in 2012 and Camille in 2015.
The two close friends say they are now fearing for their lives and have been holed up in their apartments.
The virus, dubbed the 2019 Novel Corona virus, originated in an illegal wildlife market in the central city of Wuhan in Hubei Province in December, claiming 170 lives and infecting nearly 8000 people in China, latest official data showed.
China has built a 1000-bed hospital to treat patients within six days, and plans to erect another 1300-bed facility in the next week.
Zilin, who lives in Changsha in Hunan Province, says they were ordered to stay indoors, and although it is holiday season in China and schools are closed, the place is like a ghost town.
“We were asked to avoid crowded places and wear masks to cover our noses and mouths should we go outside,” she says.
“They also told us to wash our hands regularly and keep working surfaces clean to reduce the risk of contamination.”
She says the usual bustling city has come to a complete standstill.
“People are hardly outside and you don’t hear any cars driving.
“The scary part is, the symptoms are the same as that of the flu, so with every cough and sneeze I have to stress and worry if I contracted the virus.
“The incubation period of the virus is up to 14 days and we are required to be self-quarantined.”
Camille, who teaches English in Xining in Qinghai Province, says were it not for her contractual obligations, she would have been on the first flight home to escape the dreaded virus.
“There are already a few cases in our city, I can only imagine what it will be like when people return from their holiday destinations,” she says.
“It’s terrifying to know people are dying and being a foreigner, I wonder if they will treat us as a matter of priority or will they treat the Chinese citizens first?”
Cases have been detected in other countries, while several airlines have suspended flights to and from China.
The National Department of Health on Thursday released a statement, saying: “We would like to reiterate that there are no cases of 2019 Novel Corona virus cases in South Africa.”