The receptionist’s seat is empty, the five-star hotel restaurant no longer serves customers and the staff flees in view of the guests.
Welcome to Marco Polo in Wuhan who is chased by the specter of the new deadly coronavirus that has infected nearly 6,000 and originated in this city of central China.
Wuhan and its 11 million residents, plus anyone who was visiting, are now isolated from the rest of the world, quarantined until the Beijing government can control the outbreak.
The luxurious Marco Polo is one of the few hotels that has remained open as the crisis broke out, despite fears about person-to-person transmission.
But the moment you set foot in the hotel on the banks of the Yangtze River, it is clear that this is not the usual thing.
The lobby desk has no staff and the silence is disturbing, a strange contrast to the brightly colored decorations of the Lunar New Year that celebrate the Year of the Rat.
The hotel, generally bustling and modern, is more or less empty, and the staff struggles to combat absolute boredom, when they are not confined to a room for mandatory rest periods.
To stay active, staff participate in group exercises at 10 am daily to try to stay healthy.
“After doing so, we felt much more relaxed,” said a hotel employee, Zhu Juhua.
“This type of activity can improve our physical endurance, as well as our mental endurance,” said another, Xiao Fan.
The threat posed by the virus has caused some changes in habitual behavior in the high-end hotel.
All guests must wear facial masks on the property, and each time someone leaves, they are observed with the greatest suspicion.
Every time someone enters or leaves the hotel, a security guard checks their temperature for signs of fever.
“It’s fine if the temperature is within 37.3,” says Xiao, who is responsible for measuring the temperature of staff and guests.
“If it exceeds 37.3, we will take the necessary measures.”
In addition to the feeling of fear, an ambulance removed a child with a fever from the hotel earlier this week.
Guests are asked to complete forms explaining their movements.
One of the questions is: “Have you been in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus in the last two weeks?”, A reference to what is believed to be the maximum incubation period.
The Marco Polo has 356 rooms, and is generally 80 percent full during the busy Lunar New Year period, an employee told AFP on condition of anonymity.
But now, there are only about 20 guests left, the employee said.
Most of them are simply stranded because the city is in quarantine, without trips inside or outside by road, rail or air.
Currently, only two of the hotel’s 34 floors have guests.
The restaurant is closed to prevent the spread of the disease, although guests can still request room service.
“When I opened the door, the housekeeper left the tray on the floor and fled as if she had seen a ghost,” said a guest from Latin America.
Some employees were seen in the halls of the hotel with full protective suits.