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
























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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