Latham native trying to leave China amid coronavirus outbreak

Emily Burkhard
Updated: January 28, 2020 06:36 PM
Created: January 28, 2020 12:44 PM

NewsChannel 13 spoke with a Capital Region man who is staying in Kuandian, China, a micro-city 30 miles from of the North Korean border.

Latham native Kyle Fragnoli was recently offered an opportunity to travel throughout China for several months while completing acting and modeling jobs. He's one of 73 Americans who made the temporary move about two weeks ago.


"No one had any idea that this was going on at the time," Fragnoli said.

A few days after they arrived, someone forwarded an alert from an American news organization describing the mysterious coronavirus. Fragnoli said he didn't take it seriously at first.

Fragnoli said when they first arrived, many people were gearing up for the Lunar New Year.

He attributed shuttered businesses and empty streets to the holiday travel, not to restrictions on operating hours imposed by the Chinese government.

Fragnoli said the government is threatening to fine businesses if they continue to operate after the curfew.

He also had a hard time understanding all the information being disseminated, as he doesn't speak the native language.

Fragnoli began to take the virus more seriously after three people in his group started to show symptoms.

"A couple of Americans have actually gone to the local hospital and actually were refused entry. So they had to be transported to Dandong and then Shenyang because they were not going to take liability for any of the foreigners that were involved," Fragnoli said.

Those people are still quarantined at the hospital, which is about four hours away from where the rest of the group is staying.

Chinese officials are now urging everyone to stay inside and keep their face masks on. Food is now being delivered door to door. Officials are telling people to drink bottled water only. Fragnoli said someone has been coming to take their temperature when they wake up in the morning and when they go to bed at night.

Officials have shut down transportation to and from airports. Fragnoli said it's unclear if and when they'll be able to leave China. He believes they'll know more when the U.S. Embassy re-opens on February 2.

It's also unclear if leaving would affect the status of Fragnoli's work visa.

"We're all trying to figure out if we will be allowed to leave, if we would be in violation our visas," he said, "So there's that kind of factor too, would we be pinned down past our visa point? Would other countries let us come into that country to let us fly out or back to China if things actually do kind of stabilize."

Fragnoli said for now he's trying to stay positive and keep busy.

"The worst thing we can do is panic, and we also don't want to go too prematurely to the airport and get stuck there because everyone is rushing to the airport," Fragnoli said.

Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates.

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