Wuhan Diary #3: Seventh Day of the Wuhan City Closure — January 29, 2020

Graphic by 巴丢草 Badiucao

Seventh Day of the Wuhan City Closure — January 29, 2020

I cried softly as I read the article “Mama Passed Away in Wuhan Quarantine”. I forwarded the article to my mother, telling her that she must take good care of herself so that I don’t become a motherless child.

A colleague who has a CT scan a few days ago has gotten worse again these past few days. Her fever hasn’t gone down at all. She said she stood in line to take the nucleic acid test and that she’ll get the results in two days. She showed me the medicine that the doctor has prescribed for her. It was the same medicine that a doctor friend had suggested. It was the kind of medicine you can’t buy in a pharmacy but have to go to the hospital have the doctor write a prescription for you to get. But if you go to the hospital, you have to stand in line. That usually takes a few hours. That is not easy for people in good health, never mind someone who is ill. I couldn’t bear to question her more closely. I just told her several times to relax and take good care of herself since she would have to rely on the strength of her own immune system to win this battle. God, please bless my friend.

Today I went out for a while. My cough not only hasn’t gotten better, it seems to have gotten a bit worse. Fortunately I don’t have any other symptoms so I decided to go out and buy some cough medicine that my doctor friend had suggested and take a look at this city that I haven’t seen for quite a while. These days going out is a real pain. Before going out I have to change all my clothes into my outdoor clothes, and a face mask. I would have felt a lot better if I could have had single-use gloves as well.

Returning home was even more of a pain. Standing in the front hallway, I had to take off my jacket, pants, shoes, face mask, gloves, bend my mask backwards, cut it with scissors, tie it securely and then put it in the special trash container. I had to turn all the clothes inside-out, fold them, and carry them to the balcony to get some sunshine. Then I would go to the washroom to wash my hands. Once I had finished washing, I would go back to the balcony, and spray my outer clothing with a disinfectant. Then I would go back to the washroom to wash my hands once again. It has gotten so bad that now even a suggestion from my family that we go outside gives me a headache!

Today’s pharmacies still had their doors closed, only the small side window remained open for the reception. The poster still displayed “masks, disinfectant, thermometer sold out”. Unlike the first day of the Lunar New Year, no one was in line today, so I was able to get my cough medicine quickly.

Today was such a sunny day. The golden sun was shining on the asphalt road, reflecting the dazzling light. I suddenly felt relieved.

Although Wuhan finally had ushered in the long-lost sun, there were no people on the street. The safety signs displayed ” Keep 5-meters distance apart”, however, it was unlikely to see a single person within 50 meters. Note that this area is one of the most prosperous areas in Wuhan. Normally, even after midnight, the road would have been full of crowds, not to mention on the fifth day of the new year. This time in previous years, the road should have been full of people. Standing on an empty road, only the traffic lights were changing the signal as always despite whatever is happening in the world. I subconsciously stopped at the red light. For a moment, I suddenly felt funny, after all, even if I were lying in the middle of the road, I fear that no one would care about me, but I still waited for the traffic light. Was it possible that there would be a bus coming down from the sky?

I went to the supermarket on my way home, and several supermarkets near my house still maintained a sufficient supply of fresh vegetables, and the prices were normal. Except that everyone was wearing a mask, and there was a looming tension in the air, everything else seemed no different from before.

I see some homeless people without face masks. I am worried about them. Even we cannot get any masks now, who will care about them? I should have carried more masks so I can share with them. Sigh.

Besides the homeless, there are also stray dogs and cats. A number of people inside our residential community feed them regularly, which keeps a lot of dogs and cats chubby. So I do not have a habit to store pet food. However, in this emergency situation, stray animals may not have a good time.

This does not affect only the strays. Many pets were trapped inside the home due to the emergency lockdown. Their owners left only a small portion of food at home and went on travelling or visiting hometown. So the pets are facing the danger of running out of food source. I have noticed that local pet relief organizations has started to help pets whose owners are outside of the quarantine zone. But this may breed potential conflicts, such as the financial loss, pet’s health and life risk, due to the breaking into houses. During this unusual time under special conditions, I am afraid a series of controversial legal issues may surface later on.


“It’s better to be a dog in a peaceful time than be a human during turbulent days”, is probably summarizes the situation.

I think back to the article《妈妈在武汉隔离病房去世》 “my mom passed away in the quarantine ward of Wuhan”. I can guess between the lines that this six member family should lead a peaceful and affluent life, without worries for clothes or meals; they have at least two real estate properties, two cars and they can afford immunoglobulin, which costs 115 USD per dose. But what does any of that matter? The imagined eternal peace is just a bubble that bursts at a mere touch.

No one has immunity.

Chinese text:


















About 高大伟 David Cowhig

After retirement translated,with wife Jessie, Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and have been studying things 格物致知. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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