Ex-pats in China's Wuhan - the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus - say they are focussing on their hobbies and cooking to keep them busy as they enter their 17th day of lockdown.

Joseph Fatai, from Tonga, and his wife Caroline Rakotomalala Fatai from Madagascar, were only given hours notice of the lockdown in Wuhan as the Government tried not to alarm people.

Residents have been told to stay inside and none are allowed to enter or leave the city. Businesses - with the exception of supermarkets - have been told to stay shut and schools are closed until further notice.

The couple both work for an education company in Wuhan, Fatai as a computer science technology manager and Rakotomalala Fatai as a sales manager. They have been told not to return to work until at least February 13 - but have no details beyond that.

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Joseph and Caroline Fatai are now in day 17 of lockdown inside Wuhan city. Photo / Supplied
Joseph and Caroline Fatai are now in day 17 of lockdown inside Wuhan city. Photo / Supplied

Fatai, who has relatives in New Zealand, said the advice they were getting was that employers could not make staff redundant over this time - but pay could be negotiated.

The 31-year-old says they have been out three times since the lockdown was enforced to remove rubbish from their apartment and get supplies from the closest supermarket 800m away.

They would usually e-bike or taxi to a larger supermarket which stocked a greater range of international brands, but with no public transport operating and vehicle use restricted - they had no choice but to walk.

They are also only eating two meals a day to help ration food and rubbish.

Fatai, 31, moved to Wuhan 12 years ago to study. He admitted they were initially scared about remaining in a locked down city, but were staying positive and felt safe in their apartment.

"In the beginning we felt like we were trapped in the lockdown but slowly we tried to understand the situation and we realised they are actually trying to help - not just for us but especially for people outside."

The couple had thought about leaving Wuhan which they regard as their second home, but decided against it as they did not want to risk infecting family members.

Fatai said they had now adapted to life inside their apartment and it was like any other day - except they couldn't go outside.

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Joseph Fatai and his wife are rationing food and trying limit their rubbish as they face an extended lockdown in Wuhan city. Photo / Supplied
Joseph Fatai and his wife are rationing food and trying limit their rubbish as they face an extended lockdown in Wuhan city. Photo / Supplied

"We are trying to stay indoors as much as possible."

He was instead spending time making music and his wife Rakotomalala Fatai, an artist, was working on a painting to illustrate what was happening in Wuhan.

"We are doing pretty much anything we can do to stay sane and not get bored."

They have also started a vlog sharing their experience of the lockdown online and were grateful to still have gas, electricity and the internet.

The couple said they were not taking any risks and even though they have been wearing masks since the virus was publicly announced at the end of December, they are now also donning protective eye wear, gloves and shoe covers before they go out and disinfecting everything when they returned.

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