Wuhan Diary #11: The Fifteenth Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 6, 2020

Graphic by 巴丢草 Badiucao

February 6 Fifteenth Day of the Wuhan City Closure

Wuhan is colder and rainier today. I am afraid this make many people suffer even more.

During the past few days many things have started to happen that I had been worrying about.

For example, now that epidemic prevention and control work has come down to the community level, many conflicts have broken out between residents and the community authorities. On our community WeChat group, I have seen many screenshots about quarrels and abusive language. I have also seen news of fights as well as tearing of face masks and protective suits. There are even rumors of several criminal incidents – although officials call this kind of news “rumor” and so I can’t confirm it.

From the standpoint of the community authorities, they lack funding, they lack manpower, they lack supplies, they lack experience and they lack authority. The community can really provide anything in the way of medical care or assistance. In any case, to be blunt, very many people working for the community care for elderly people for 3000 RMB a month. Their work capacity, their conscientiousness and their motivation are all very limited. It is too much to expect them to be front-line workers. From what I’ve seen over the past few days, personnel from the city, the district and the street committee levels haven’t been giving any systematic, scientific guidance about how the community workers could do their work better such as guidance on better work flow planning. They expect the community workers to figure all this out on their own – to “feel for the rocks as they cross the river” as the saying goes.

From the standpoint of ordinary residents (such as myself), dissatisfaction has been growing. Many communities have heretofore been “invisible” organizations. Many residents discovered their community after the epidemic began when they opened “Wei Neighborhood” (an official WeChat mini-program) and joined their community chat group. For now, I won’t discuss “vital matters” such as contacting hospitals and arranging for a hospital bed but instead information about small things related to daily life. These include disinfection and sterilization work of the neighborhood and buildings; work on the district’s daily epidemic information report; and food supplies. Different communities handle this very differently.

Over the past few days, the well-functioning communities have already brought fresh produce, prepared foods and vegetables into the community, sent out a message to the chat group, and arranged staggered times for every household to pick up supplies at designated pickup points. The decontamination work committee for the neighborhood and buildings shares photos of their work on the chat group to reassure the residents. To the best of my knowledge these communities are extremely few. I tend to think that these are communities served by excellent property management companies and not organized by the communities themselves.

After several days of criticisms, arguments and abuse on the chat groups, very many communities over the past two days have started issuing their own community epidemic reports. With that one exception, I haven’t still haven’t seen any perceptible improvement in their work.

Although community work is front-line grass-roots work, their usual work logic is that they are “grassroots management’, the “grassroots power” and not the “grassroots service”. That reflects the Chinese Communist Party’s logic of going from the top to the bottom and from the inner to the outer. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a big problem and one wouldn’t feel too acutely the conflicts and hypocrisy inherent in that. With the epidemic, we of course see completely exposed the bureaucracy, rigidity, dereliction of duty, and low efficiency there. Be that as it may, I expect that community work in Wuhan is certainly not among the worst in the country.

Even after the epidemic passes, these conflicts and divisions we have had will be with us for a long time to come.

The Wuhan International Expo Center and several prefabricated buildings have been pressed into service as hospitals. I heard from some friends there that the situation is not good. Systems for providing heat, medicine, food and other essentials are not yet in place. Especially serious is the lack of central heating. Each bed has an electric blanket but not all have accessible electric power yet. According to news I have seen in our neighborhood WeChat group, there have already been arguments and fighting with medical personnel in some prefabricated hospitals. I worry a lot about the current situation.

First of all, in an environment like that of the prefabricated hospitals it is very easy for people to become fearful and anxious. The emotions of one person can easily spread to the entire group. Moreover, since most there have only mild cases and can still move about to some extent, it would be very easy for criminal acts or riots to occur there.

Secondly, from the initial period of the epidemic right down to the present, the organizational ability, reaction time, supply logistics as well as site management and control skills of Wuhan officials has been abysmally low. Systematic planning based on scientific management principles is essential in guarantee that over a thousand people are provided with heat, food and medicine. I already see serious problems such as the lack of central heating, relying instead upon electric blankets on every bed. That is clearly a major fire hazard.

Thirdly, people say that those concentrated at the prefabricated hospitals have confirmed diagnoses by only mild cases of coronavirus pneumonia. Each patient will need very good care if they are to get better. I inquired of a friend who has already been diagnosed. Home-quarantined, he has obviously started to improve. Every day his family gives him chicken soup. Each meal is warm and carefully prepared. This excellent care laid the foundation for his recovery. At the prefabricated hospitals however, given the serious shortages of staff and supplies there, I fear that it will be very difficult to give patients the environment that they will need to get better. Where one thousand people are gathered together, eating, drinking and waste disposal are all problems. Never mind supplying them all with chicken soup, it is doubtful whether they can all be provided with hot water, not to mention adequate numbers of medical personnel, medicine and medical equipment.

In such an environment, once the condition of several individual patients deteriorates, fear and dissatisfaction will spread quickly.

I really hope that these worries of mine don’t come to pass.

I just saw in our friends’ Chat group saw a plea for help from a friend of many years. Now that her mother and grandmother have already started to have trouble breathing she is asking for help finding hospital beds for them. My friend’s father died two years ago. Her mother and grandmother are the only ones left of the older generation. Not only could I not help her, I didn’t even know how to console her. Anything I could say in the middle of a disaster like this would just fall flat.

Two days before the city was closed, some friends suggested that I hurry up and take my family away from Wuhan but I didn’t take their advice. I didn’t know whether I myself could already be a carrier of the virus and would then infect people elsewhere.

These days I wonder though whether I am too self-confident. At present, my family and I are blessed to be safe and sound and in good health. If any one of us were to be infected however, judging by the state of medical care in Wuhan today, I would have to blame myself for dragging my entire family on down to Hell.

Chinese text:

2月6日 武汉封城第15天

武汉今天降温下雨了,这样的天气恐怕会给更多人带来麻烦。

最近几天我发现,很多早几日担心的事情都开始发生了。
比如疫情防控工作下沉到社区,现在居民跟社区的矛盾非常大,我已经看到好多社区群里吵架、辱骂的聊天截图了,打架、撕扯口罩、防护服的情况也有发生,甚至有传言已经发生了几起刑事案件,只是这类消息官方向来是“辟谣”的,无法核实。

站在社区的角度,缺乏经费、缺乏人手、缺乏物资、缺乏经验、没有处置权限,社区确实很难在医疗救助的层面上有所作为。何况,坦白说,在本地做社区工作很多都是一些拿着两三千块钱等养老的人,工作能力、意识和意愿都相当缺乏,现在让他们充当一线,确实太难为了。而且从我这几天的观察发现,从市、区、街道的层面似乎也没有给他们提供科学、系统的操作指引和处理流程,全靠各个社区自行“摸着石头过河”。

站在普通居民(比如我自己)的角度,对社区的不满也在累积。很多社区一直是“隐身”状态,很多居民都是通过这次疫情,才在“微邻里”(一个官方微信小程序)里找到自己社区,并加入群组。暂且不论联系医院、安排床位这种“人命关天”的大事,就连与日常生活息息相关的小事:小区和楼栋的消毒杀菌工作、辖区每日疫情通报工作、食品物资的供应等等,不同社区之间的差距都非常大。我所见到工作比较到位的社区,从前两天起已经将生鲜蔬菜引入社区,他们会在微信群里发通知,安排每户居民错开时间到指定地点领取;小区和楼栋的消杀工作会拍照片发到微信群里,通过这些方式让住户安心。但是这样的社区,就我所知,非常少、非常少,而且我更倾向于这是优质物业联动社区的行为,而非社区主动为之。经历了这几天各个群里的质疑、争吵、辱骂之后,很多社区在这两天渐渐开始发布社区疫情通告了,但是除此之外的其它工作依然毫无进展和呈现。

社区工作虽然是一线基层,但惯常的工作逻辑是“基层管理”“基层执政”,而非“基层服务”,这也是CCP从上至下、从内至外一以贯之的逻辑。平常时节没什么大事,不会太多体现出这种逻辑的矛盾和虚伪,现在通过疫情,自然彻底暴露出官僚、僵化、渎职、低效。然而,即便如此我仍然相信,在全国范围内武汉的社区工作一定不是垫底水平。
即便等到疫情过去,这段时间发生的矛盾和撕裂恐怕也会持续影响很长一段时间。

武汉国际博览中心等几处改建的方舱医院这两天陆续投入使用了,听调到这里的朋友说目前情况不容乐观。供暖、医药、食物等配套和物资都还没有到位,尤其是没有统一的供暖,虽然每个床位有电热毯,却没有完全通电。看到有群里转发的消息,有的方舱医院已经发生了针对医护人员的争执、打斗。对于现状我非常非常担心。
首先,方舱医院这样的环境很容易产生恐惧和焦虑的情绪,个人的情绪波动又极容易蔓延为群体,而且这里的病人多是轻症,还有一定的行动能力,很容易发生刑事案件和群体性事件。
其次,从疫情发生的这段时间来看,官方的组织能力、反应速度、物资供给、现场管控都是非常非常糟糕的,上千个病人的御寒、饮食、医药都需要科学系统的规划才能保障。现在已经能看到的矛盾,比如现场没有集中供暖,而是以每个床位使用电热毯代替,这显然有很大的火灾隐患。

第三,目前集中在方舱医院的病人据说是已经确诊的轻症患者,这些患者每个人都需要悉心照料才能好转。我曾询问过我的一位确诊朋友,他是家中自行隔离且现在已明显好转,他的家人每天为他炖鸡汤、每餐饭都精心烹饪,这为他的康复打下了很好的基础。但是方舱医院在人手和物资严重不足的情况下,恐怕很难给病人提供适宜的康复环境,上千人混居,吃喝拉撒都是问题,别说鸡汤了,足够的热水能不能提供都成疑,更遑论足够的医护人员、药物、医疗设备。
这样的环境下,一旦有个别病人病情恶化,恐惧和不满就会迅速蔓延。
实在不希望我这次的担心又成真。

刚刚在朋友圈看到一位多年好友的求助,妈妈和奶奶已经开始呼吸困难,他希望能帮她们找到床位。这位朋友的父亲在前两年已经过世,可以说妈妈和奶奶是他仅剩的至亲长辈。我不仅帮不上他,我甚至都不知道怎么安慰他,任何语言在这场灾难面前都是苍白。
封城前两天,有朋友建议我赶快带家人离开武汉,我当时没有接受。因为我不知道自己是不是病毒携带者,我担心到了别的地方会传染给其他更多人。
但是这些天我一直在反省自己是不是过于自信了,现在我和家人都平安健康实属万幸,万一我们中有人感染,以武汉现在的医疗状况,就是我亲手把我们一家推入了地狱。

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.
This entry was posted in Health 健康, Ideology 思想, Literature 文学, Politics 政治 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Wuhan Diary #11: The Fifteenth Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 6, 2020

  1. Irina says:

    Спасибо, что пишете. Желаю здоровья вам и вашим товарищам!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.