American art teacher was detained at Chinese airport and in quarantine

EXCLUSIVE: ‘It’s not as horrifying or torturous as people might think.’ American art teacher quarantined in China tells how he’s isolated in a ‘comfortable’ hotel room where he’s fed three meals a day, watches movies and reports to doctors via WeChat

  • Branden Paillant, 30, is an American art teacher living and working in Hangzhou, China and has been quarantined in a hotel room since March 6 
  • Paillant was on vacation in Japan and was detained by authorities at the airport for seven hours after being asked to deplane before any other passenger  
  • Paillant gave DailyMailTV an exclusive inside view at what quarantine looks like  
  • He is staying in a government-sponsored quarantine hotel for two weeks, is fed three meals a day and has to take his temperature at 9am and 3pm daily 
  • Paillant has to report the results to doctors via WeChat and says he’s ‘approaching this as sort of like a retreat from the world and the hysteria’

An American art teacher has been quarantined in China since he arrived to the country six days ago and is giving DailyMailTV an inside look at his mandatory government isolation  

Originally from Miami, Florida, Branden Paillant, 30, is an American living and working in China – the epicenter of the corona outbreak where over 3,000 people have died.

Paillant’s life was relatively calm until he landed in Hangzhou, China, on March 6 from vacationing in Japan. Hangzhou is only a five hour train ride away from Wuhan, where the outbreak began. 

When he arrived to China, he was asked to deplane before any other passenger and was detained for seven hours in the airport before being inspected by officials in hazmat suits and then taken to a hotel where he is to remain for 14 days. 

Paillant opened up to DailyMailTV exclusively, giving an inside look at what quarantine looks like from the moment he was taken by Chinese officials at the airport until today, his sixth day in quarantine. 

Branden Paillant, 30, is an American art teacher living and working in Hangzhou, China and has been quarantined in a hotel room since March 6

He is staying in this government-sponsored quarantine hotel for two weeks, is fed three meals a day and has to take his temperature at 9am and 3pm daily


Three meals are provided by the government daily, (pictured) but doesn’t look so appetizing to Paillant so he generally orders all his meals to the hotel 

Paillant was placed on an empty charter bus with a makeshift barrier between him and the driver before being placed in his government appointed hotel for a 14 day quarantine

Speaking positively of China’s handling of the outbreak, Paillant said quarantine has been ‘kind of nice.’

‘It’s not as horrifying or torturous as people might think that it is,’ he said. 

Paillant was assigned to stay in a government-sponsored quarantine hotel, the Atour Hotel, which is listed at $40 a night and looks clean and stylish. 

Paillant has to report the results to doctors via WeChat and says he’s ‘approaching this as sort of like a retreat from the world and the hysteria’

He gave DailyMailTV video tour of his current accommodations in isolation, which he says are ‘really comfortable’.  

Paillant, who had been living in China since September, said he’s ordered to check his temperature at 9am and 3pm daily and report the results to a doctor via WeChat.

Aside from the initial scare, Paillant is enjoying movies, ordering food, making phone calls home and is taking this time for personal development. 

‘I’m approaching this as sort of like a retreat from the world and the hysteria,’ Paillant said of his mindset. ‘I still watch the news, of course, but I’m in solitude, and it gives me a lot of time to reflect and to think.’ 

He says he’s been using the time to journal and practice learning Japanese because ‘all of a sudden I have time to do this for two weeks.’ 

He’s also not locked in his room and is able to open the door to collect his food and take his trash out. But there is a camera outside his room, prompt up facing his door, ensuring that he’s monitored at all times.  

Paillant’s coronavirus quarantine story began when he decided to travel during the Chinese New Year celebration, commonly known as the Spring Festival, which is one of the largest human migrations in the world. 

It’s common for Chinese citizens to travel outside the big cities, to visit family, or take vacations in the West.

This year the holiday happened to coincide almost exactly with the outbreak of the coronavirus.

After traveling to Japan and parts of Southeast Asia, Paillant was informed by the school he works for that returning to mainland China was not possible, so he stayed abroad for four more weeks awaiting travel developments.

Japan is one of four countries currently – along with Italy, Iran, and South Korea – that requires travelers to undergo a 14-day quarantine in a government appointed hotel.

Paillant was later informed by his school that he should return to Hangzhou but would need to do a 14-day quarantine.

On March 6, Paillant arrived in Hangzhou, the capital of China’s Zhejiang province. 

Chinese officials were waiting for Paillant in hazmat suits (pictured) when he arrived to the country on March 6 


Officials gave Paillant some masks and a thermometer to check his own temperature twice a day. There are cameras outside his hotel room facing his door at the Atour Hotel 

Paillant gave DailyMaliTV an exclusive inside look at what quarantine looks like, showing off his ‘comfortable’ hotel room bathroom 

He posed for a photo in Nikko, Japan, while visiting the country on vacation. He wore a face mask throughout the trip 

Paillant left China during the Chinese New Year, days before the outbreak became public, and due to his travels to Japan he was placed in quarantine upon arrival in China. He’s pictured on vacation in Tokyo just before returning 

The first sign of a problem occurred when he was escorted out of the plane, skipping the other 30 passengers waiting to deplane. 

From there he was taken into a private room in the airport to begin inspection by airport personnel in hazmat suits and was held by the Chinese Immigration Inspection for seven hours.

He was put through a severe trial of questioning by Chinese officials before being transported to quarantine. 

‘Being detained in the airport lobby was by far the worst part of this whole experience,’ Paillant said. ‘It felt more like being in prison than it does here in the comfort of this hotel. The lobby was cold and really dirty actually, which was frustrating.’

Paillant was put into what he considered ‘a full-blown background check.’ The personnel asked him where he had been and what he was doing in China, among other questions. 

They questioned him while filling out paperwork and taking his temperature.

‘Airport personnel were just these like ominous figures,’ Paillant said. ‘It’s not like they’re wearing badges with their roles on them or anything. They were like, ”sorry you’re not going to be able to stay in that other hotel.”’ 

After this process, he was escorted to the lobby of the airport and questioned again. 

Palliant, who does not speak Chinese, had to call his employers to translate what the officials were telling him.   

‘They’re just doing their best to make sure that I don’t infect anyone, if I’m infected, and they’re doing their best at making sure that no one infects me for two weeks.’ 

Pallaint snapped this photo of a messy check-in area for people entering Hangzhou who will be quarantined


He waited in the check-in area for seven hours at the airport and snapped this photo of the dirty surroundings 

The check in area was ‘cold and really dirty ‘, according to Paillant, who called the whole ordeal frustrating’

Unbeknown to Branden, he would be scheduled for transportation to a government cleared quarantine hotel.

He was transported on an empty charter bus with a makeshift barrier between him and the driver.

‘I thought I was going to be free to leave the airport and call my taxi and be on my way. But, I was actually being escorted this whole time,’ said Paillant. ‘I was ready to call the taxi and leave. When I tried to do that someone stopped me; I wasn’t allowed to leave the waiting area where everyone else was. Then I realized, okay, I can’t leave.

‘I was a bit disoriented and just, you know, tired from waiting in an airport lobby, cold, dirty airport lobby for seven hours. And I had a heavy bag on me. 

‘We’d gotten to the hotel and actually we didn’t even walk through the lobby, they took me around the side, like the back entrance of the hotel.’

Despite a challenging and scary process, Paillant stayed calm and trusted the order of the Chinese officials.  

‘When they told me that I wasn’t going to be able to stay in the hotel I planned on, I wasn’t very happy about that. But I knew that there was not much I could do about it. If I want to stay here, I have to follow the rules.’ 

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