Quarantined in China: Here’s What it Actually Looked Like
This was the first year we didn’t travel abroad for the winter holidays. Each year, we visit a new country in Asia for the Chinese New Year — but this year was different. We stayed in China, and spent 4 days in a nearby small town to refresh and rejuvenate. No one was wearing masks yet, but disturbing news about the situation in China began to come from relatives and friends from abroad.
Here in China (in January), they didn’t talk about the virus yet. Everyone was preparing to celebrate the main event of the year. We returned back home to Chongqing on January 24th, and on the 25th they slowly began to close restaurants, shopping centers, and soon, entire cities.
The first week was fun; we walked along the deserted streets and felt like heroes of post-apocalyptic movies.
The first week was fun; we walked along the deserted streets and felt like heroes of post-apocalyptic movies. At the time, it was still possible to order food from cafes and restaurants (for deliveries) but soon they would close too. There were empty shelves of instant noodles, frozen foods, and condoms in supermarkets. We watched all the films about the epidemic, sincerely believing everything would end in a maximum of two weeks.
A week later, it became uncomfortable: they implemented an access system in every condo. We were allowed to leave the house using coupons, which meant that 1 person from each family could go out once every three days. Everything was closed, except for grocery stores and drugstores, and there weren’t any masks or sanitizer anywhere. Fortunately, we found stocks of masks at home, which we bought several years ago to wear during a strong smog.
We were able to order the products we needed, so we almost didn’t leave the house at all. Typically, delivery is brought directly to the door, but during that time couriers weren’t allowed into the condo territory, and it was required that we go out and pick up the products ourselves. The delivery service here is well developed, but in such an intense period, when no one left the house, couriers and shops were overloaded with orders, and delivery took about 4 hours, instead of the normal 30-40 minutes. This week was terrible, but soon, we would all understand the situation.
We began each morning by checking the map to see if anyone nearby got sick.
Since measures were taken almost immediately to close the city, Chongqing, (which borders on Hubei province, where there was the main epicenter, with more than 30 million people), only 600 cases were recorded. They even issued special maps where we were able to see how far infected people were from us.
Several infected were within 1.5 km from our house. We began each morning by checking the map to see if anyone nearby got sick. Each infected person was taken to the hospital, and the entire building was quarantined (even buildings with 30 floors!). They did everything as strictly as they could.
Their main goal was for us to survive the first two weeks, including all stages of hatred, denial, etc.
Their main goal was for us to survive the first two weeks, including all stages of anger and denial. After we accepted it all, the quarantine began to pass productively. We quickly start hearing our inner selves, because there was no external noise like crowds, cars, screams, or anything else.
At home, we played sports, meditated, and read many books. We cooked a lot, watched movies, TV shows, played games, studied new things. At some point, we started to like the quarantine, and, frankly, it was productive!
We spent 2 months like this– no one went to work. Our payment of wages depended on our company: some were immediately fired, some received minimum wage, some got paid 50-70% of their normal salary. Many shops and restaurants went completely bankrupt.
When everything slowly began to open again, it was strange to hear the noise of cars and see people outside.
Now the main epicenter, the city of Wuhan, is returning to life.
Now everything is open, except for schools, kindergartens, and universities. We are still wearing masks. We can fly back to our country of origin, but we cannot fly into China (the government banned all entries). Fortunately, life returned to normal, and the change doesn’t feel too difficult.
On April 4th, there was a holiday of remembrance of the dead here in China. At 10 a.m. all vehicles and all people had to stop and honor the memory of those who died from COVID-19, with 3-minutes of silence.
Now the main epicenter, the city of Wuhan, is returning to life. Doctors are only finding cases of infection from those who managed to enter the country before they closed the borders.
At 10 a.m. all vehicles and all people had to stop and honor the memory of those who died from COVID-19, with 3-minutes of silence.
What is happening around the world now, it both scary and sad. My advice is this: most importantly, do not panic. Filter information and take care of yourself both physically and mentally. There are plenty of wonderful things, moments, people and opportunities (even in quarantine) around us. Eventually, we will all be back to normal. Stay home, stay safe.