It was around mid-January when Corona virus started spreading rapidly in Wuhan city and in Hubei province of China. Me, living in Shanghai (800 kilometers from Wuhan city), also took serious concerns about the ongoing epidemic. 800 kms is not a long distance in China, as the country is very huge and has huge network of high-speed trains. Wuhan went into lock down from January 23, while the official Chinese New Year holiday started from January 24. As soon as the news broke out, Chinese government issued public notices about safety tips about how to stay safe. Everyone in Shanghai started wearing masks and using hand sanitizer more than often.
The official Chinese New Year holidays were from January 24 to January 30, 2020. Everyone, including me was happy to get the holidays. I was planning to visit my sister and friends in Nanjing (300 Kms from Shanghai) during this holiday. But things didn’t go as planned. I stayed in home, waiting for the holiday to end and go to Europe for my training. I was physically fine and showed no signs of any symptoms of the infection. For all the 7 days holidays, most of the people in Shanghai, including me, stayed in home and avoided mass gatherings. People only used to go outside to buy groceries. Many young people didn’t even do that. They just used to order everything online, as groceries or food you ordered online gets delivered to your doorstep within an hour. So, this was my normal lifestyle during those holidays.
“I don’t know what the cause of this virus is or whom to blame for. But I do know that if we be responsible and act according to the policies of WHO and local government, the pandemic will end soon. Of course, staying in home is boring, but what’s worse is someone you love suffering because of the virus. So, please be responsible and act accordingly.”
The epidemic started growing in other provinces of China. However, Shanghai is very strict and conscious about these kinds of matters. So, I believed Shanghai wouldn’t be affected that much. And, I was right. The city of 30 million people has only around 370 infected people till now.
The day I had my flight (February 1), I took a taxi and went to airport. Of course, I wore a mask then. Everyone in the streets was wearing masks, including the taxi driver. He told me how lucky I am to leave China in this epidemic. However, my reply was I am coming back, and I believe that this will be controlled when I will be back.
I had my flight to Moscow, and then a connection flight to Brussels. During my 10 hours flight from Shanghai to Moscow, everyone in the plane was wearing masks. Although I felt very uneasy to put on the mask for such a long time, I had to do it. After the plane landed in Moscow, we weren’t allowed to go out of the plane. We waited for around an hour until some people with thermal scanners came in the airplane. People were already tired of the long flight and wanted to get out as soon as possible. However, it took two more hours for everyone’s body temperature to be scanned, and the health declaration forms to be filled. Many people in the plane had connecting flights from Moscow. The old lady besides me had already missed her flight due to the health checking. When I got off the plane, I had 20 minutes left for the boarding time. I ran in the airport, to make sure I wouldn’t miss my next flight. I was there in the boarding gate just in time.
The Chinese New Year holiday that was supposed to end in Jan 30, was postponed till Feb 10. The staffs of Xiaomi, Huawei, Alibaba, and many other big companies in China had already started working from their home since February 03. While I was in Europe for 3 weeks, things went from bad to worse in many parts of China. However, the statistics in Shanghai looked very assuring. When I came back to Shanghai in Feb 22, I found the rules and regulations were stricter than before. There was a strict temperature check, along with health declaration forms to be filled in the airport. When I arrived back to my apartment building at around 1’o clock at night, the security guard checked my temperature and asked for the entry permit in the building. I told him that I was not in China, so I don’t have it. So, he told me to scan a QR code that basically searches your location for the last 14 days, based on your phone number. After I showed that my location was not in affected areas like Hubei province, he allowed me to enter the building and asked me to stay in home until I get the building entry permit the next day. The next day I got my entry permit, so I could go out and buy groceries. Even if I had to stay in the room for days, I could order food and everything online.Every local community has people with required kits, assigned to deliver the groceries to the people that came from infected zone and are in strict home quarantine.
Shanghai government had a rule that everyone who enters Shanghai must be self-quarantined in home for next 14 days. Although no one was really watching me, I didn’t go out except for buying groceries. I worked from my room for the next two weeks. After spending two weeks in home and showing no signs of illness, I could go to office to work now. On my way to office, I found that many roads were blocked with steel bars, making up huge walls, so that a person can’t really enter from there. Those roads had huge banners that read: anyone who tries to go through it is a criminal. So, I had to take a detour so that I could get examined before I enter my workplace community. When I was about to enter the community, the security guard asked for entry permit. I told him it was my first day and I just have a photo of it, sent by my manager. He let me enter the community, after checking if I have worn proper masks and body temperature, of course.
Nowadays during workdays, I get my body temperature checked 4 times in a day. First time when I leave my apartment, second time when I arrive in office, third time when I leave the office in evening and the fourth time when I enter my apartment.Of course, my body temperature is checked more than often if I enter a mall or go to market to buy vegetables. Few days before, China got zero domestic infected cases in a day for the first time. Except for Hubei province, things are getting back to normal in China. Everything is open, except for schools, colleges and movie theaters. It looks like China has already won the war against virus inside China, with its strict policy of monitoring and a very good management.
I don’t know what the cause of this virus is or whom to blame for. But I do know that if we be responsible and act according to the policies of WHO and local government, the pandemic will end soon. Of course, staying in home is boring, but what’s worse is someone you love suffering because of the virus. So, please be responsible and act accordingly.