Taiwanese account manager Douglas Liu values his life more than his job, which is why he will be staying at home on Monday rather than going back to work in the mainland China city of Suzhou.
Liu returned to his home in Taipei on January 10 for an extended Lunar New Year holiday " and to vote in the island's presidential election " and planned to go back to work on February 1. But as the coronavirus epidemic worsened, the 45-year-old changed his plans.
"Last week, my company told me I should resume work on February 24, but after I argued in vain over the risk of returning to Suzhou, I tendered my resignation," he said. "After all, my life is more important."
Liu works for a firm that manufactures chest freezers for the mainland Chinese market.
"With more than 80 coronavirus infections in Suzhou and little sign of it subsiding, who knows what could happen to me if I return," he said.
More than 78,700 people have contracted the virus since it was first detected in Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei province, at the end of last year, and close to 2,500 have lost their lives to it.
As of Saturday, about 98 per cent of the infections and 99 per cent of the fatalities were in mainland China, two figures that have prompted many Taiwanese to rethink their employment plans.
According to a survey conducted last week by online recruitment agency 104 Job Bank, 63 per cent of Taiwanese with jobs on the mainland said they would not be returning to work after the extended Lunar New holiday. Before Wuhan was placed under lockdown on January 23 in a bid to contain the coronavirus outbreak, the figure was just 50 per cent.
"The intensification of the outbreak has created panic and insecurity for Taiwanese who work in mainland China and the lockdown of many cities has further discouraged them from returning to their jobs," said Jason Chin, a senior vice-president at the recruitment agency.
Dozens of cities across China have introduced some form of restriction on the movement of residents, and several remain under total lockdown.
Chin said that the containment efforts had made it impossible for many companies to resume normal operations and provided a catalyst for Taiwanese workers to seek employment elsewhere.
"Taiwanese often change jobs after the Lunar New Year, so the mainland government's policy of delaying the resumption of regular business activities has given them more time to look for work outside mainland China," he said.
Shannon Chiu is another Taiwanese who decided to call time on the mainland because of the coronavirus outbreak.
After two years working for an agricultural technology company in Zhengzhou, the capital of central China's Henan province, she said she already had concerns about the standards of health care there.
"Being sick in Zhengzhou is a nightmare for Taiwanese because of the poor organisation and registration procedures," she said.
"You either have to wait hours to see a doctor or go hospital-hopping in the hope of getting an appointment somewhere else."
Chiu said she was still working in Zhengzhou after the outbreak had been reported in Wuhan " about 500km (310 miles) to the south " but no one in the city was wearing a face mask.
"I was lucky because I came back to Taiwan a week before the lockdown and my company allowed me to continue working from Taipei," she said.
"Although I no longer enjoy the expatriate benefits, I feel a lot safer here because I don't think I would survive if I was put in a mainland hospital because of Covid-19."
Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.
Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.Artikel Asli