KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — We've heard a lot about the infection itself and where it has spread, but what about where it originated in Wuhan, China? 

One Knoxville woman has traveled to the city multiple times and painted a picture of what is was like before the coronavirus.

Jean Ash has flown around the world more than 50 times to visit China. She first went with her dad in 1987 and fell in love. She also lived there for two years.

Ash said it's been hard to see the devastation the virus has caused to a place so close to her heart. She keeps dozens of artifacts in her Knoxville home, each has a story from her travels overseas. "It opened my eyes to 'Wow this is cool,'" said Ash. 

Some of her time spent in China was in Wuhan, the center of the outbreak. "Wuhan is the biggest city no one's ever heard of. It's very metropolitan but it's hot," she said. 

Officials believe a wet market was the possible starting point of the outbreak, a place where meat is sold alongside live animals. "The temperature is hot so when you go to the wet markets where all the animals are with fish, toads, room temperature is pretty darn hot year round."

She said while the surroundings may be different, the people are similar. "The people are always nice, very friendly like East Tennesseans are."

Seeing the coronavirus spread has been difficult to watch for Ash. She said it reminds her of the SARS outbreak and hopes to see the city return to what she remembers.

"Now I'm concerned about them I hope they're alright," said Ash. 

The travel ban to China has been in effect since February 2. There's no set date it's expected to be lifted. 

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