Wuhan Diary #9: The Thirteenth Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 4, 2020

Graphic by 巴丢草 Badiucao

February 4 — Day Thirteen of the Wuhan City Closure

It is very sunny today. When I got up this morning, the sun’s rays just poured into the bedroom, bathing the entire bed. For just a moment, I thought it was just an ordinary weekend day. I thought I could, after washing up and getting dressed, go out with some friends, have a meal, and catch a movie.

That now feels like it must have been in a previous life. I get that feeling a lot recently.

Today, I sorted through the receipts I have kept since the we knew about the epidemic. We have spent nearly 1000 RMB [about USD $140] on medical masks, alcohol, hand sanitizer and other medical related items:

  • Face masks: 599.5 RMB (of which 282.6 RMB is reimbursable)
  • Alcohol pads 128 RMB
  • Disposable hand sanitizer RMB 33.7
  • Household pulse oximeter 139 RMB
  • Electronic thermometer 83 RMB

We have gotten nearly all the packages we ordered for delivery by SF Express before the Wuhan city closure. We ordered one parcel for delivery by China Post. That parcel arrived at a Wuhan post office a few days ago but it hasn’t budged since

Two orders for face masks are being refunded. Although they were in stock when I placed my order, the company told us later that we’ll have to wait and they don’t know when they can deliver them.

I bought a lot of disinfecting alcohol pads. I also bought some for my cousin, but it has not been shipped yet. They were taken off the website shortly after I placed the order so it must have been sold out. That store has long been out of alcohol. We have almost used up nearly all our home supply.

I bought a disposable hand sanitizer when new type coronavirus pneumonia was just a rumor. Then I bought the compact size because the household size was not big enough. My classmate recommended a brand widely used in hospitals for disinfection and sterilization that is more effective. Unfortunately, the thought of buying more occurred to me only just before the city closed. By then there were no more in stock. I hope I can buy more later.

I bought the pulse oximeter, which is fairly inexpensive, before the city closed. Then I knew neither what we faced nor whether any of my family members were infected. Now our family is doing alright and we may not need it at least for now. Someone on Weibo social media asked for help the other day, saying that an elderly infected person could not be observed at home without a pulse oximeter. I felt lucky. Although I spent money on it, it was a matter of being prepared for a misfortune that in the end did not come.

Buying the thermometer is the hardest expense for me to justify. I blame yourself for breaking our mercury thermometer. Mercury thermometers are too much trouble. I spent a whole morning cleaning the beads of mercury so I decided to buy an electronic thermometer this time. The electronic thermometer I bought was twice as expensive as usual because most of the pharmacies in Wuhan are sold out. I heard that there are only a few pharmacies that selling it, but I can’t go out now. Although I couls go out walking to do errands, Wuhan is too big and in the end I may not find a drugstore with one in stock. Moreover buying it on your own is expensive. After contacting several online shops fairly close by, I discovered that none of them deliver via SF Express. Finally, I did find one at twice the usual price with guaranteed although that will take three to four days. In times like these though, a thermometer is essential.

We’ll certainly have more expenses later. Now each one of us is mentally prepared to fight a long drawn out war against the virus. Things like face masks, alcohol, disposable hand sanitizers will surely continue to be snatched up as as soon as they become available. My spending has been below average since I only bought surgical masks, and I bought them earlier, before the price doubled. If I had bought 3M surgical masks, the price would have been several times higher. If the situation continues to fail to improve, I will start buying 3M masks if available.

These days however you may not be able to get them. Last week the online shops were saying that they will be able to shap after “February 10th”. Now many are saying they won’t be able to ship until March. I worry too if I will end up buying a fake mask. Recently I saw several so-called “overseas mask large order groups” claiming that medical masks from the United Kingdom can be bought for 3.4 RMB each (compared with the regular Wuhan price of 1.9 RMB) and that you could get that price if over 50,000 people join the collective buying group. But when asked specifics about the brand and type, they respond that they are still awaiting confirmation. However do they determine the price without knowing the brand and the type? Is it even possible to buy that many surgical masks in the UK now? All this gives me a lot of doubts and worries.

I saw an online plea for help for a family of five – including a young child – that all contracted coronavirus after the one suspected case in the family followed the doctor’s suggestion to do a “home quarrantine”.

I see many similar help requests every day. The reason I paid attention to this one particularly is because they live close to me, just so very close that I imagine that I hear them panting for breath.

I also saw news in a neighbourhood WeChat group that several staff members of a supermarket near my company got confirmed diagnoses of coronavirus pneumonia. The supermarket has been closed. I went to that supermarket two days before Wuhan was closed.

Lots of bad news recently. My classmate’s parents were both infected in Wuhan while my classmate was away. The mother is now in critical condition and no one is taking care of the elderly couple. I contacted their community but couldn’t even get the community to take them for medical treatment in one of the cars assigned to the community.

One WeChat group friend has six elderly sister in his family infected with coronavirus. I never imagined that the so-called “outbreak period” could be this bad. Maybe it was just because subconsciously I felt that if I didn’t think about these things I could pretend that life was more peaceful and more beautiful. I am already well into middle age but this is the first time that misfortune has struck so close.

Last night, I saw news on official state media that the Government began disinfect the entire city on Feb 3. Why ever did they wait for twelve days after the city was closed to start doing that! Can you believe it?

Yesterday evening I saw on the neighborhood WeChat group news that a supermarket in another community was surprisingly enough hold a free vegetable delivery event. Photos and video showed that the event attracted a big crowd. I am just speechless. I despair at the incompetence and idiocy of our officials.

I read a saying that goes “A fallout particle of the times comes down like a mountain on a single person’s head”.

Chinese text:

2月4日 武汉封城第13天

今天的阳光特别灿烂,早晨起床的时候,阳光倾泻而下,洒了满床。有那么一瞬间,我以为这只是个普通的周末,等我洗漱完毕换好衣服,就可以跟朋友们一起吃饭看电影。

恍如隔世,最近常常会有这种感觉。

今天把知道疫情情况以来的消费账单简单整理了出来,口罩、酒精、免洗洗手液等医疗相关的物品,总计花了近1000元:

l 口罩 599.5元(其中282.6元待退款)

l 酒精、酒精棉片 128元

l 免洗洗手液 33.7元

l 家用血氧监测仪 139元

l 电子体温计 83元

封城前下单的东西发SF快递的基本都已经收到,有一件包裹发的中国邮政,前几天到了武汉后就没有动静了。

口罩一项中有两笔单正在退款,因为下单时有货,最近答复需要继续等待、发货时间不明。

酒精棉片买的比较多,给表弟也买了一份,但是还没有发货,不过那家店在我下单后不久也下架商品了,想必也已售罄。酒精更是断货很久了,家里现在用的是我以前的存货,也快用完了。

免洗洗手液是新型肺炎刚有传闻时买的,当时买的便携装,家用是不够的;这是同学推荐的医院常用的品牌,消毒杀菌效果比较好;可惜等封城前想再多买一些的时候就没货了,希望接下来可以补货。

血氧仪比较鸡肋,也是封城前买的,当时不知未来情况如何,也不知道家人是否感染,担心过年期间快递停运买不到,就果断下了单。现在家里整体状况还好,可能暂时用不到。前两天看到有人微博求助中称,家里老人感染在家,没有血氧仪无法进行监控,我心里略过了一丝庆幸,虽然花了钱,但至少有备无患吧。

体温计是最冤枉的一笔开销,都怪自己失手打碎了家里的水银温度计。水银温度计实在太麻烦,光是清理水银珠就花了整整一个上午的时间,所以我这次打定主意换电子体温计。我买的这款电子体温计比正常时期的价格贵了一倍,因为全城的药店都在缺货,听说仅有几家药店还能买到,但现在肯定是不能出门了,虽然可以找跑腿代买,可是武汉太大了,不一定能找到有货的药店,何况代买费用本身也很高。沟通了好几家发货地点比较近的网店,都不能发SF快递,总算找到一个能保证发货时间的,不仅价格贵了一倍,也需要3-4天才能送到。但是特殊时期,体温计是必不可少的装备。

这个开支肯定还会增加,现在我们每个人都做好了长期对抗病毒的心理准备,口罩、酒精、免洗洗手液这些等有货了肯定还要继续买。

相较而言,我的开支可能还不算很高,毕竟我只买了医用外科口罩,如果买3M口罩价格会翻好几倍,而且我买得比较早,当时还是正常价格,封城前后口罩已经成倍涨价了。不过如果接下来的情况持续没有好转,我也会买3M口罩。

然而现在就算想买,也不一定能买到。上周网店的回复普遍是2月10日后发货,现在很多已经改成3月发货了。

更令人心焦的是,不知道会不会买到假货。最近看到几个所谓“海外口罩团购”,据称可以从英国采购普通医用口罩,每个3.4元(武汉正常时期医用外科口罩大约每个1.9元),5万个起团。询问关于品牌和型号的详细信息时答复还在询问确认,为什么品牌型号都不知道,价格却能确定呢?而且,英国现在能买到这么大批量的口罩吗?实在不得不让人充满了疑虑和不安。

在网上看到一条求助,一家5口,孩子才几岁,最早有一人疑似的时候遵医嘱“居家隔离”,现在一家人都感染了。这样的求助每天都可以看到很多,之所以对这条格外在意,因为地理距离实在太近了、太近了,近到我觉得好像可以听到他们气喘的声音。

在本地群里也看到消息,离公司不远的一家超市有多个工作人员确诊,导致超市停止营业。封城前两天我还曾去这家超市买东西。

这几天身边全是各种糟糕的消息:在外地的同学爸爸妈妈在武汉都感染了,妈妈已经病重,没有人可以照顾二位老人,联系社区连送医的车子都安排不了;群里的朋友,家中长辈6姊妹全部感染……我一直没有设想过所谓的“爆发期”可以糟糕到什么程度,可能因为潜意识里觉得,如果自己不去想这些,还能加装生活平静美好吧。

长这么大,第一次觉得噩运的距离如此之近。

昨晚看到官媒发出的消息,武汉在3日开始全城消毒……居然在封城12天后才第一次全城范围消毒!谁敢相信!

今天还在群里看到,有另一个区的超市居然在搞免费蔬菜派送,看到现场照片和视频,又是大群人群聚集。

……不知道还能说什么,对官方的能力和意识感到深深的绝望。

读到一句话:时代的一粒灰,落在个人头上,就是一座山。

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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