RADHICA DE SILVA
As the coronavirus multiples in mainland China, T&T national Shilohna Philanders says she is incensed that the T&T Embassy in China had failed to add her to their database when she moved to China in 2019.
Philanders took to social media this week denying that she had rejected an offer of evacuation from the T&T Embassy in Beijing, China, following the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei Province.
The T&T Embassy had claimed was in contact with two nationals of T&T who are in Hubei Province, following the outbreak of the coronavirus but Philanders said she was never contacted.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Philanders said, “I continue to very disappointed in the #TTEmbassyinChina.”
She said since she made her plight public, two people with ties to the Embassy contacted her.
“The initial call I received early this morning (China time) was from the individual who I initially liaised with on entry to China in May 2019. He asked me questions regarding my wellbeing if I was fine etc, which though late, I appreciated,” she said.
However, she admitted to becoming incensed when she realized that the Embassy had not followed through on her paperwork.
“I was informed that though they did receive and confirm receipt of my information, I was NEVER added to the database. Imagine my annoyance on hearing this. So I have been in China almost a year and the Embassy has never corresponded with me because for reasons unknown, my information was never added to their database,” she lamented.
She noted that during her stay in China, there have been correspondences via email as well as a WeChat group with other TT Nationals.
“Despite having sent my information more than once to the Embassy (I forwarded the information with my very first contact and I was subsequently asked to input the information on a form, which I also did) I was omitted from their database. Imagine if things rapidly got worse here before last night and all TT Nationals were to be evacuated? Guess who would have been stranded in China?” she wrote.
She added, ” What’s also bothers me is that although he did indicate that I was never added and he apologised “on behalf of the Embassy” so no real ownership of the error was taken.”
Philanders added that another person contacted her via Facebook and wanted to know whether she was safe.
She noted that 120 nationals of T&T were in China and her omittance from the database made her wonder whether other people were also omitted.
“I was lost in the cracks. This poses a lot of concerns for me. Am I the first person this has happened to? Are there others like me who are also in China but for whatever reason have been omitted from the database? It makes me wonder indeed, what is really going on here? Can I trust my welfare while here? I am beyond disappointed in MY Embassy. Is this what we have to show for ourselves as a people? Is our customer service indeed so lax that as a nation, even when operating outside our borders that we still perpetuate this poor service that seems to be synonymous with our culture as a nation,” she asked.
Philanders in an earlier post said she was able to leave Wuhan well before the virus became very serious so she was safe but this was not because of any assistance from the T&T Embassy in Beijing China.
The virus has already spread to 21 countries with a total of 7,785 (7,678 cases in mainland China and 106 cases outside China) confirmed cases. A total of 170 people have died as to January.