SHENZHEN, CHINA (WWAY) — A Carolina Beach man, who is currently in China, is sharing his experience of working in a country at the center of the novel coronavirus.
Rob Darden is the head coach of the Chinese National BMX Olympic Team. He is leading the women’s team to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Darden is located in Shenzhen near Hong Kong, which is about 12 hours south of Wuhan, China. The coronavirus outbreak was first identified in Wuhan in December 2019.
After a visit home to Carolina Beach around the holidays, Darden returned to China in late January only to be forced into quarantine 48 hours later by the Chinese Cycling Association.
He said there are three facilities where the Olympic athletes are allowed to train. Up until last week, the facilities were closed. They are now open, but not to the general public.
“We are basically on house arrest,” Darden said. “We are at our apartment. We go to the facility to train. We come back to the apartment. We don’t leave.”
While Darden seems to have a cool head about the situation, he is glad officials there are taking the coronavirus seriously and are working to keep the virus from spreading.
There are numerous checkpoints where Darden and his team will get their temperatures taken to make sure they are not showing signs of COVID-19.
“We leave the hotel and we’ll get checked,” he said. “When we go to facility where we train at, we get checked. When we go back to our hotel, we get checked again. Then, after lunch, there is a mandatory check by the hotel. They come to our room and they check. Within our company, we have to submit an online form with temperatures at the end of the day as well. There are sometimes where we check our temperatures eight times a day.”
While the grocery stores are back open, Darden said the Chinese Cycling Association wants to limit the risk of the team being exposed to the coronavirus, which is why they get food and supplies shipped directly to the hotel.
Usually, they would go out for meals, but the virus has led them to have an in-house chef.
“One of the staff members is a chef and he cooks meals three times a day,” he said.
In the limited time they are in public, Darden said everyone is wearing a face mask.
“That’s everyday life,” he said.
Darden said the travel restrictions are a huge challenge for him as he is more than 8,000 miles from his wife and kids.
He plans to be with the team in China through the summer Olympics, which takes place from July 24 through August 9.