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Student born in South Florida waits to evacuate after Wuhan coronavirus death toll surges

Wuhan University dream turns into ‘apocalyptic’ quarantine nightmare

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – An aspiring scientist who was born in Coral Springs is among the foreign college students trapped in China where public health officials are enforcing a quarantine to stop a new deadly virus.

At first, Nicholas Schneider, a Wuhan University student, didn’t think it was a big deal when Chinese public health officials reported they had linked a new coronavirus to a nearby market.

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Schneider was studying geodesy, a branch of applied mathematics that will allow him to become a geodesist, someone who measures the earth to determine exact coordinates. He had plenty of work, so he decided to hunker down in his dormitory. But the situation worsened, and the university turned into a ghost town.

“He described it really as kind of a very eerie apocalypse,” Schneider’s father, Raymond Schneider, said.

People wearing face masks walk down a deserted street in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. China's death toll from a new viral disease that is causing a  global concern rose by 25 to at least 106 on Tuesday as the United States and other governments prepared to fly their citizens out of the locked-down city at center of the outbreak. (AP Photo/Arek Rataj)
People wearing face masks walk down a deserted street in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. China's death toll from a new viral disease that is causing a global concern rose by 25 to at least 106 on Tuesday as the United States and other governments prepared to fly their citizens out of the locked-down city at center of the outbreak. (AP Photo/Arek Rataj) (Arek Rataj)

The father said he had plans to visit his son in Wuhan, a city with 11 million people and more than 30 universities and colleges. The plans changed quickly.

China has more than 50 million people under quarantine. He saw his son go from being bored to fearful, frustrated and angry.

South Koreans evacuated from Wuhan, China, disembark from a chartered flight at Gimpo Airport in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. South Korea sent planes to fly back home more of their nationals from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of a new virus. (Kim Kyun-hyun/Newsis via AP)
South Koreans evacuated from Wuhan, China, disembark from a chartered flight at Gimpo Airport in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. South Korea sent planes to fly back home more of their nationals from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of a new virus. (Kim Kyun-hyun/Newsis via AP)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, file photo, passengers board buses after arriving on an airplane carrying U.S. citizens being evacuated from Wuhan, China, at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif. One of the 195 Americans evacuated from the virus outbreak zone in China and housed at a California military base for three days of monitoring tried to leave the base and was placed under quarantine, an official said Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, file photo, passengers board buses after arriving on an airplane carrying U.S. citizens being evacuated from Wuhan, China, at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif. One of the 195 Americans evacuated from the virus outbreak zone in China and housed at a California military base for three days of monitoring tried to leave the base and was placed under quarantine, an official said Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File) (Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Schneider said his son called the U.S. embassy. His first option was getting a $1,100 seat on a charter flight, but the airport was 30 miles away. That’s when his dual U.S.-German citizenship came in handy. The German embassy offered him a bus ride and a seat on a flight to Germany on Saturday.

“I am so grateful,” the student’s father said. “We will celebrate tonight and tomorrow. And then in two weeks, we are going to celebrate again with a party.”

French passengers leave in buses a military air base, Friday Jan.31, 2020 in Istres, southern France after arriving by plane from the virus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan. A planeload of French citizens from the virus-hit city of Wuhan has landed in southern France on Friday, and its passengers are being taken to a Mediterranean vacation resort for 14 days of quarantine.(AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
French passengers leave in buses a military air base, Friday Jan.31, 2020 in Istres, southern France after arriving by plane from the virus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan. A planeload of French citizens from the virus-hit city of Wuhan has landed in southern France on Friday, and its passengers are being taken to a Mediterranean vacation resort for 14 days of quarantine.(AP Photo/Daniel Cole) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Schneider won’t be able to see his parents right away. He will be quarantined in Germany until public health officials believe is safe for him to join his family.

There are 9,692 confirmed cases in China, including 213 deaths.

Tourists from Wuhan, China, stand in a line for a charter flight back to Wuhan at the Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. A group of Chinese tourists who have been trapped in Thailand since Wuhan was locked down due to an outbreak of new virus returned to China on Friday. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Tourists from Wuhan, China, stand in a line for a charter flight back to Wuhan at the Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. A group of Chinese tourists who have been trapped in Thailand since Wuhan was locked down due to an outbreak of new virus returned to China on Friday. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The World Health Organization issued an emergency declaration on Thursday and the U.S. declared a public health emergency on Friday.

The virus has spread to Australia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Thailand. There are seven cases of the new coronavirus in the U.S.

States with confirmed 2019-nCoV cases (CDC)
States with confirmed 2019-nCoV cases (CDC) (CDC)

President Donald Trump ordered to temporarily bar foreign nationals who are coming to the U.S. from China starting on Sunday afternoon. The 195 Americans who were evacuated this week remain in quarantine in California.


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