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Rochester native living in China reflects on the easing of restrictions there

Rebecca Kanthor
Rebecca Kanthor

Here is audio of the extended interview that WXXI's Randy Gorbman conducted with Rebecca Kanthor over the weekend.

When WXXI News spoke with Kanthor in late January, it was in the initial phases of the outbreak. She and her family were isolating themselves, especially because they had passed through Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak in China.

But the situation has greatly eased now in that country, in terms of the number of reported cases. Still, Kanthor describes the situation as a “new normal” for people living in China.

“It includes getting your temperature taken, having a QR code that shows that you are healthy and have not left town and have not been in contact with anybody else who has the virus. And so, yeah, it’s a different kind of a normal, everyone’s wearing a mask,” Kanthor says.

But Kanthor is glad they can pretty much move around freely. She made her first trip recently to a big retailer since the virus outbreak, shopping at an Ikea store.

Kanthor says there is still unease among a lot of people there, particularly when they see someone who looks like they might have traveled from a different country.

“Most of the new cases are coming from people returning to China from somewhere else, and so there’s a bit of fear of people who don’t look Chinese, because they might be someone in contact with someone who is returning,” Kanthor says.

Rebecca Kanthor and family
Credit provided
Rebecca Kanthor and her family.

There have been reports in the U.S. of discrimination against Asian-Americans, because of the virus, and while Kanthor says anecdotally, she’s heard of some not so nice behavior by some people in China against non-Chinese travelers, in her experience, that’s been the exception, rather than the rule.

“People are contacting me, are your parents ok, do they need masks? I want to donate masks to doctors in America, how can I get masks over to them? So, there’s a lot of bad things going on in the world, but there’s also a lot of good things going on too,” Kanthor says.

Kanthor says she’s now more concerned for her parents, other relatives and friends, since the virus is peaking now in parts of the U.S. Her main advice is similar to what many of the experts advise, stay inside as much as you can.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.