Wuhan Diary #4: Eighth Day of the Wuhan City Closure — January 30, 2020

Graphic by 巴丢草 Badiucao

Eighth Day of the Wuhan City Closure

I got some more bad news. Another friend was diagnosed and has already gone to the hospital. The news came through some mutual friends, so I don’t know yet whether the diagnosis has been confirmed using the nucleic acid test. However, with hospital beds being in such great demand these days, it couldn’t be just a mild case. This friend is younger than me. I don’t know what I can say. I just hope he wins this fight. An office colleague of one of my friends has also been diagnosed. He was very upset but I couldn’t think of anything to say to help calm him down.

Among my friends who seem to be able to accept and understand new information, it seems that the more people understand, the more they feel that all they can do is to put their trust in God and pray for God’s mercy. Without that, what can we do? Have regrets? Why did I go to the meeting that day? Why did I go to see that performance? Why did I want to work overtime?

— But we just don’t know! Nobody told us.

We got word from our friends these past two days that their food supplies are running low or that they are eating instant noodles. This makes me sad. I’ve been asking myself recently: Those two days when I was stocking up, why didn’t I sent a reminder to my friends? Was I being too selfish? Then I remembered that I had been focusing on convincing my parents to wear masks, to trust me, and to start purchasing supplies… Truth be told, I myself didn’t wasn’t too sure of myself when my whole family had doubts about what I was saying and was putting pressure on me.

But what if I had been 100% sure? Would I have chosen to remind them? I’m afraid I’d still have been cautious about doing that, for the more profound reason that I don’t want others to think of me as a gloomy person filled with “negative energy”. The same goes when I am faced with notions that I don’t agree with. I wouldn’t stand up and argue with people.

Although I would inwardly feel like turning my nose up at them, I would instead have a polite smile on my face. Given that I am and for a foreseeable long future will be trapped in such a group or atmosphere, I have to be gregarious and conceal my sharp edges and many of my thoughts. I’ve gotten used to censoring myself and knowing when to keep my mouth shut. I always feel torn apart by these conflicts. I understand full well that I am powerless. Knowing that about myself make me very sad.

Yesterday, I saw someone in our local Wechat group asking for help. This person’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. She lives in the Wuhan suburbs, and is scheduled to go to the hospital in Wuhan for treatment every week. After the abrupt shutdown, they of course not able to find an easy way to enter the city. Delaying her treatments could have dire consequences. We chat group members got very worried. Strangers who have never met put their heads together to create a plan. Some even suggested to help her take her mother all the way to the city border, and have somebody from within the city pick the patient up. With everyone’s help, this problem was solved.

But I couldn’t help but ponder on how many other people would find themselves in a similar situation.

Another friend’s grandmother is nearly ninety. She who lives alone on a university campus in a dormitory for teachers and staff. The school was closed recently when suspected cases were identified there. My friend was worried that her grandmother was left all alone, and reached out to the school and to the community for help, only to be told “we cannot help”. She said she will go there herself tomorrow. This is a hard decision for her to make. She has kids at home. Leave them to go all by herself to an area that closed due to confirmed coronavirus diagnoses is hard.

Getting medical treatment for patients and take care of the elderly are among the many everyday issues that the coronavirus outbreak has made harder.

Many more difficult issues are cropping up as well.

For instance, overnight almost all hospitals in China are searching for medical supplies. This is happening in many places, from the hardest-hit area of Wuhan and Hubei Province including even the national capital Beijing and the cities of Guangzhou and Chongqing as well. It seems as if the warehouses of all the hospitals are empty.

If there had been no outbreak, who could ever have imagined that that would happen? I am afraid that even writers with the darkest sense of humor couldn’t have come up with a story like that.

But now that we know the problem, can we solve it?

Chinese text:

1月30日 武汉封城第8天
































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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