Coronavirus hinders Nevada woman from teaching in China

Published: Feb. 10, 2020 at 12:26 PM MST
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Melissa Fabbi is from Logandale, Nevada, but has been teaching in China for the last couple years. She also happens to be the cousin of KMVT reporter Rachel Fabbi.

Melissa Fabbi said she isn’t concerned about catching the virus itself, but it has made her life complicated.

“I can’t teach, so we’re doing online classes, which has been a pretty high learning curve," she said. "I’m currently in Thailand because the company I work for has a school here, so I can come here and get things set up for my own classes. I can go home, but I won’t be able to leave the country again with borders closing every day or banning people who’ve been in China within 14 days."

She was in Finland when the outbreak really started, and hasn’t been back to China in a few weeks.

“I have to keep traveling, even though I only have clothes for winter in Finland and am in Phuket, Thailand and the weather is currently 86 degrees because Thailand will let us in and other countries are quickly putting restrictions in place,” Fabbi said.

She made a stop for a few days in South Korea, between Finland and Phuket.

She also said the fall out of the outbreak has frustrated her the most.

“I can wear a mask and wash my hands, and stay safe that way, but I also can’t go home unless I don’t want to leave my neighborhood for a month while school is closed," Fabbi said. "The city is encouraging us to stay home as much as possible. We also have to wear masks when we are outside. I’m not afraid of going back to China at all, I think everyone there is doing the best they can, and given the circumstances, everything gets better every day."

She’s also seen the measures being taken at border crossings.

“Many places are checking temperatures, many have health declaration forms we have to sign saying we haven’t had symptoms and how long it’s been since we’ve been in China, and ask if we’ve been to Wuhan within the last two weeks. My flights have been a lot less full the past couple of weeks. Lots of open seats, everyone is wearing masks. I bring my Clorox wipes with me for tray tables, hotel rooms, etc. wash my hands a lot. It’s just extra precautions, nothing crazy though. Business as usual, just everything takes longer,” Fabbi said.

She also said given the circumstances, she feels that being a white woman with a US passport has made things easier for her.

“Things are a lot easier since I’m not from China, nor look Chinese, even though I live there and could be just as contagious as anyone else. I’m not, but I could be," she said. "I think if I was my experience would be completely different. There’s a lot of fear out there, and I recognize that things may be easier for me than for others, which isn’t fair. People treat others differently when they are afraid."

Fabbi also said she doesn’t think people should be worried, as long as they follow basic hygiene protocols.

“Wash your hands with warm, soapy water at least 20 seconds, cough into your elbow, eat green vegetables and get enough sleep," she said. "If you do use a mask, change it for a new one often. The only people I would recommend wearing a mask are those with weak immune systems and bad lungs, or those currently ill. Everyone else really has nothing to worry about. The chance of contracting the virus is incredibly small, and smaller still with precautions."