Wuhan Diary #5: Ninth Day of the Wuhan City Closure — January 31, 2020

Graphic by 巴丢草 Badiucao

January 31 – Ninth Day of the Wuhan City Closure

Today mother was uncomfortable when she got out of bed. She felt like she was running a slight fever. I got very nervous as soon as I heard that. We had been in quarantine for eight days, we had not still not reached the median length of the latency period before which symptoms appear is nine days. I spent the

Even worse was that I had broken the family mercury thermometer two days before. Now we didn’t have any way to measure temperature. I spent the noon hour trying to figure out how to buy a thermometer online. My conclusion was that I couldn’t. The two pharmacies near our home are all out. Wuhan’s online shop doesn’t dispatch products using SF Express. The other express companies wouldn’t dispatch the order.

I got several pieces of bad news one right after the other. My mother’s sister, who lives outside Wuhan, is in the hospital. My elder sister said that a CT scan turned up symptoms in her lung. Could she have gotten the new type coronavirus pneumonia while standing in line waiting to take the nucleic acid test? This aunt came to Wuhan in early January so we can exclude the possibility that she has gotten it. Mother cried when she heard the news…

Only thing good about it is that the hospital where she lived is not as busy as the Wuhan hospitals so she didn’t have any trouble getting admitted. She is elderly so I hope it will turn out to be nothing.

This evening I heard that another office colleague also has a suspected case of pneumonia.

I can’t avoid being upset especially since the virus is still mutating. Different people might have different symptoms. Me for example. I am coughing but don’t have any fever but can the possibility that I have pneumonia be completely ruled out? These days there is just no way of knowing.

If I want to know whether I have won the pneumonia lottery or not, I would need to go to the hospital. But there is no small hospital with a CT scanner near us. The big hospitals are all jam-packed. When I weigh the pluses and the minuses, I think it is better to just remain home under home observation. Moreover, I don’t have an N95 face mask so going to the hospital now would be too risky.

However, since I still have my persistent cough, I made a report to the authorities as my company requires.

Today is the seventh day of the New Year. This would ordinarily be the day that I would go back to work. I am at home but still working. I participated in a video conference this morning. The annual plan and the first quarter plan that I worked overtime at the end of last year are naturally all out the window. But at what point does the new plan begin? For now, we all have only a very fuzzy idea about that.

When will we get some clarity? All kinds of administrative matters such as salary, performance, rest breaks, overtime and annual vacation are still up in the air. A few days ago I heard that some companies are planning to go to a six-day workweek until they can make up what they lost during this “closed city” period. All this is just rumors and guesses of course.

Perhaps just because the future is so fuzzy, and perhaps also because we have a colleague who was diagnosed with pneumonia, our companies leaders haven’t given us any specific work instructions. They just tell us to take good care of ourselves.

This will certainly have a big impact on the economy this year. Businesses are not a charitable organizations but I do hope that afterwards there will be some policy support.

These past few days watching the news I was always hoping that the medical products factories were working overtime during Spring Festival and that the government had forbidden face mask price increases. But if that were done, how could those companies afford to pay workers three times their usual pay? Medical products companies are not charities either.

Just as I was writing this, news appeared in my WeChat group that the Wuhan Union Hospital had received medical supplies thanks to donations from the alumni of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology and not the Chinese Red Cross.

I feel in my bones that the (Chinese) Red Cross is not to be trusted.

I was still a student when the Wenchuan Earthquake that hit Sichuan in 2008. Our family had little money so I relied on a state scholarship to pay my tuition. After the earthquake my family and I contributed to the Chinese Red Cross. It wasn’t very much but it was all I could afford at the time. When the second anniversary of the earthquake came around, I saw an online report that after the earthquake local governments in Wenchuan and other areas had bought new and very luxurious cars. If I were to look back to just when I became “enlightened” that would be it.

Earthquake relief supplies kept on coming for fourteen years. Then someone discovered that that Red Cross warehouses in Sichuan still held relief supplies contributed from people all over. Many of these relief supplies had expired and had to be written off.

Was that an isolated mistake? I believe that there was nothing accidental about it.

But someone were to say that the Wuhan Red Cross is completely ineffective, I would have to disagree. From what I have seen of them over the past few days, they are still very good at writing copy to “refute rumors”.

Chinese text

1月31日 武汉封城第9天

今天妈妈起床不是很舒服,她感觉有点发热,我一听就很紧张。毕竟我们自我隔离也才8天时间,还不到潜伏期中位数(9天)。

更糟糕的是,家里的水银温度计前两天被我失手打坏了,现在没有办法量体温。花了整个中午的时间研究如何线上买到体温计,结果就是——买不到。我家附近的药店断货了,武汉本地网店有货的不发顺丰,其它快递又不送货了。

陆续还收到几个不太好的消息,外地的姨妈昨天住院了,听堂姐说CT检查肺部有症状,还在排队等核酸检测是不是新型肺炎,姨妈月初时是来过武汉的,现在不能完全排除。

妈妈一听就哭了……

好在那边的医院床位没有武汉这么紧张,还能顺利住院。姨妈年纪大了,希望不会有事。

傍晚又听说,同办公室还有其他同事疑似了。

不慌乱是不可能的,尤其是病毒仍在变异,各人的症状不一定完全相同,像我这样只咳嗽不发烧是不是就能完全排除呢?现在也说不好。

想要确认自己是否中招,还是需要去医院检查。但是我家附近没有能做CT的小医院,几个大医院都是人满为患。反复权衡,我觉得还是继续在家观察比较好,毕竟我没有N95口罩,现在去医院风险太高了。

不过因为持续咳嗽,我也按照公司要求进行了上报。

今天是年初七,按照原计划,应该正式开工上班。

虽然在家,也一样是要工作的。上午开了视频会议,去年底加班做的全年计划和第一季度的计划,自然都是要全部推翻重来了,但是新的计划要从什么节点开始,现在大家也都很茫然。

茫然的又何止这些呢?各项行政类的事务,如工资、绩效、休息、加班、年假……都是悬而未决,前几天还听说有的公司可能安排开工后每周工作6天,直到补齐这段“封城”时间为止。

当然,一切还都是传言和猜测。

可能是因为大家都很茫然,也可能是因为同事的确诊,领导并没有下达什么实质性的工作指令,嘱咐大家保重。

今年的经济自然会大受影响,公司也不是慈善组织,惟愿后面可以有一些政策上的倾斜扶持吧。

这几天看新闻也总会想到,医疗用品厂家春节期间一直在加班加点生产,另一方面又要求口罩不能涨价,那么春节期间工人的3倍工资是否能保障呢?医疗用品厂家也不是做慈善的呀。

正在写这篇日记时,群里弹出消息,协和医院在下午收到物资了,物资来源是华中科技大学校友会的捐赠,而非红十字会。

(中国)红十字会,我从骨子里是不信任的。

08年汶川地震,那时候我还在读书,家里经济条件不太好,学费是靠国家助学贷款。但是地震发生后,我和家人也捐了钱给了红十字会,虽然不多,但对当时的我而言已是尽了全力。

然而第二年地震周年祭时,我从网上看到了一组北川等地政府在地震后新购的豪车——如果说要为我的“觉悟”找一个时间点,我想就是这个时候了。

地震救灾物资直到14年还有后续,有人发现四川当地的红十字会仓库里居然还有6年前各地捐赠的救灾物资,并且很多都已过期报废了。

意外吗?我觉得一点也不意外。

但若要说武汉红十字会真的什么都不行,我也要替他们不服,毕竟通过我这几天观察,他们写“辟谣”文案还是非常有效率的。

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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