Belen teacher on lockdown in China due to Coronavirus


BELEN, N.M. (KRQE)  – A Belen woman who went to China to teach English, is now trapped there. She is in the epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak, and getting home is proving impossible.

“I was looking for a new adventure,” said Sheila Armijo.

Coming to China for a year to teach kids English, was exactly what Armijo thought she needed. “This country is beautiful, it is a beautiful country and the people are kind,” said Armijo.

When she arrived in December, everything was going well minus a little culture shock. “To do all of this on my own, and not speak the language of the people around me has just been so hard,” she said.

Then, the Coronavirus broke out in Wuhan, not far from where Armijo is living in Chongquing, China. So far the respiratory illness has killed 600 people.

“When the government said nobody goes anywhere, all the roads are closed, everything just came to a halt,” Armijo said.

She’s only been able to leave her apartment twice since the city was put on lockdown and said she’s trying to keep busy. She also said, “I’ve been downloading books, journaling, a lot of tears. Just talking to people from back home.”

The only places open she said are supermarkets.

“When you enter the supermarket they actually take your temperature. And I saw them turn a couple of people away, just because I guess their temperature didn’t read correctly.”

Not only has the situation been hard on her, but for her family back home. “They’re going absolutely nuts, and I’ve made the decision to go home and they make it sound like it’s an easy process and it’s not an easy process,” Armijo said.

While she works through the red tape, she’ll be cutting her teaching plans short and coming back to China is a distant thought.

“If I go home, it’s going to be really hard stepping on that plane to come back,” she said.

Armijo says she’s been working with the U.S. Embassy to try and get home but she doesn’t have her passport. She had to send it in when she applied for her visa.

Armijo now plans to reach out to the New Mexico congressional delegation for help. Another challenge is booking a flight, more airports are closed and those open only accept payment from people who have a bank account in China, which she does not.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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