(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – There is no case of the novel coronavirus in Jamaica, but some Chinese restaurants are feeling the heat from the disease which has forced major fast-food chains and retailers in China to shut their doors as the death toll from the virus rises.
On Saturday, when the Jamaica Observer made checks with Chinese and Japanese restaurants across the island, some said there was no fall off in sales.
Those who reported no issues include Fortune Chinese Restaurant, Golden Bowl, Dragon Gate Chinese Restaurant, and Orient Express.
However, two establishments reported losses and concern for the outbreak.
“Dining wise, we have been affected. Fi di week, since the announcements, we nuh really get nuh dining order, no walk-in, nobody nah really book no reservations to that. Only regular customers alone book dem reservations. All fi a hour yesterday mi never get no call, and this is a really busy place,” a worker at the popular China Max restaurant said.
The worker further attributed the decrease in customer traffic to a general fear which, she said, most Jamaicans exude.
“Jamaican people fraid a everything enuh, yuh understand? Dem even fraid fi eat food a restaurant, especially Chinese restaurants from the onset, and worse now the news of the breakout, you know dem a kill the source. A so Jamaican people stay, we kill the source,” she said.
However, she confidently stated that she is not worried and can vouch for her employer.
“It is not like they have travelled and come back from China recently, so dem clean, but a just fear (from outsiders). True we know dem nuh travel fi a period a time, it nuh bother we di workers,” she said.
A representative from Big China Restaurant in Portmore shared similar sentiments but explained that business had declined by close to 50 per cent.
“A lot has to do with the fears, what happened at UWI (University Hospital of the West Indies) in the week and the fake news topics that have been going around,” he said in reference to incorrect news spread on social media last week that there was a case of coronavirus at the hospital.
When asked if he wanted to say anything to reassure the public, the representative said, “Right now it wouldn’t make a difference, because a lot is already being said in the public. But we have been here for a long time. Most Chinese are here for a long time, couple of years, and have not been back or travel to China in recent times.”
The Big China Restaurant representative also shared that the issue spans other Asian restaurants locally, especially Japanese ones, and the tendency of locals is to classify all people of Asian decent as Chinese.
Calls made to several Japanese restaurants could not prove that the issues are the same, however, the representative from Sora Japanese Sky Cuisine said they want the issue rectified.
“We want them to hurry and fix the problem (globally), but no, we have not been affected,” he said.
The coronavirus is associated with a broad family of viruses. However, only six (the new one would make it seven) are known to infect people.
At least 259 people have died and 11,791 people have been infected in China by the new coronavirus, according to latest figures from China’s health officials, with thousands more suspected of having the virus, according to Chinese State media.
While there is no confirmed case in Jamaica, the Government on Friday banned all travel to and from China on the heels of the World Health Organization declaring the outbreak of the novel coronavirus a global emergency.