Kya Shirley Johnson, Living in China during the Coronavirus Outbreak

Published on: February 18, 2020

Kya Shirley Johnson, Living in China during the Coronavirus Outbreak

Editor's Note: For the latest information on the Coronavirus, visit

Neumann alum Kya Shirley Johnson is currently living in Guangzhou, China, teaching English for a company called Disney English. Guangzhou, the third largest city in China, is approximately 600 miles south of Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus. While her city is not the origin of the disease, Johnson is witnessing first-hand the ramifications of this deadly outbreak.  

As of February 14, more than 1,000 people have died from the pneumonia-like virus. China’s daily death toll from the coronavirus has topped 100 for the first time, as the spread of the disease showed little sign of abating. More than 42,000 people have been infected. At least three cruise ships have been either docked or quarantined, including one which had 135 confirmed cases.  

“Presently, there are safety precautions put in place that are being taken seriously by most if not all of us in the middle of this epidemic,” Johnson explained. “Everyone outside of their homes is required to wear masks and punishable by law if found not to be wearing one.”  

China’s shutdown of Wuhan has been unprecedented, as has been the evacuation and quarantine of hundreds of Americans over the past weeks. Personally, Johnson does not know anyone who has contracted the virus. The majority of cases that she has heard about involved the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. 

“Public events have been canceled to ensure limited exposure to other people who may be asymptomatic but carrying the virus. Furthermore, everyone has been encouraged to stay inside their own homes,” Johnson said.  

Johnson, who graduated in 2014 with a degree in communications, is not new to living abroad. She previously worked for the Peace Corps in Botswana, Africa, teaching English as well as being a guidance mentor for two years. During her third year, Johnson worked with a Christian NGO which offered HIV testing and counseling. After serving in the Peace Corps, Johnson wanted to continue working abroad in a teaching capacity.  

 “After completing my Peace Corps service, I decided to look for a paying job abroad working with children to broaden my scope of experience with young minds and their needs,” she noted. 

Currently, Johnson’s school is closed for the Chinese New Year. Disney English, a sister corporation on the Walt Disney Company, has pushed back its return to school date to make sure everyone is healthy. Johnson attribute the rapid spread of the coronavirus to the new lunar year because many Chinese travel the country during this break from school and work. However, she cautions all of us to be careful spreading falsities about this outbreak.  

“Please, don’t believe everything you read on the internet, check sources, and always dig deeper,” Johnson said. “I am not worried. Not only am I well but I am also a child of God aware of my purpose on this planet. But please, please continue to pray for us all and everyone outside of China who has been affected by this unexpected disaster.”  





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