Korea Republic-based Jason Davidson has revealed how the nation’s coronavirus scourge has forced him to become a virtual recluse in the ghost city of Ulsan, amid near-deserted streets and mask-wearing citizens.
But with the K-League suspended indefinitely and the AFC Champions League under threat, the fringe Socceroo remains determined to honour his contract at Ulsan Hyundai and “stick it out” rather than attempt to expedite a swift exit back to Australia where he has already sent his wife and two children.
South Korea has suffered the greatest coronavirus toll outside China, at well over 5000 cases with more than 30 deaths so far. The epicentre of the outbreak is Daegu - about 90 minutes from Ulsan.
Consigned to a life of semi-isolation, Davidson told The World Game: “It’s pretty crazy. The city is dead, the streets are deserted and people are staying indoors. It’s quite a scary situation.
“I stay in my apartment then go to training, where only the first team players are now allowed in.
“We wear masks and I’m wearing surgical gloves to go to the supermarket. There were a couple of cases reported very close to where I live, so it’s pretty concerning.
“I’ve tried to stop reading the news a little bit because you want to stay positive and things are changing every day. You can go crazy reading all about that stuff."
Davidson is one of 10 K-League based Australians - including Adam Taggart and Terry Antonis at Suwon Bluewings and Brandon O’Neill at Pohang Steelers - with the PFA setting up a group chat amongst them and exploring their contractual obligations should the situation continue to deteriorate.
Davidson’s hopes of returning to face former club Perth Glory in the ACL group stage are fading, with Australia imposing a travel ban on all non-citizens or permanent residents from the Korea Republic until March 14.
Ulsan’s clash with Glory is scheduled for March 18, but there’s a very real possibility the restrictions imposed by the Morrison Government will be extended, thus forcing the game - which has already had a venue change - to be shelved.
“I had a gut feeling things might get bad in terms of the virus and travel restrictions, that’s why my family went back,” added Davidson. “It’s frustrating not being with them but their safety comes first.”
Davidson receives constant text messages from the authorities telling him of each new coronavirus case, along with the rough location of the victim.
His phone has been pinging so much he’s turned off the notifications.
“So many people are getting sick ... you just don’t know how things are going to pan out,” he said.
“There’s not much we can do because we have contracts with our clubs and you can’t just pack up and leave. The club has to give you permission.
"We also don’t have a decision yet on when the league will be restarting. The latest we heard was maybe mid-April but behind closed doors.
“We’ve not been too sure about things, especially with some of the foreign players in China being sent home until their league resumes.”
Davidson saluted the PFA for their pre-emptive approach and “being there” for the players.
“We’ve been asking a few questions and the PFA was been on the front foot helping us,” he said.
“Maybe a lot of boys back in Australia don’t always realise what fantastic work they do. We’re lucky to have such a strong body representing us.
“It’s more precautionary in light of our circumstances. But you can understand the clubs’ point of view and not wanting to send players back just yet.
“I’ve still got a contract here and I am preparing myself to stay here and stick it out.
“I stocked up on a few things a little while back because I suspected things would get difficult and now all those items are gone from the shelves.
“I’m just trying to stay sane and stay healthy.
“It’s scary because there are so many people here and you don’t know who has it.
“Right now, you don’t see anybody outside not wearing a mask.”