Wuhan Diary #14: The Eighteenth Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 9, 2020

Graphic by 巴丢草 Badiucao

 February 9  The Eighteenth Day of the Wuhan City Closure

This morning I woke up to someone singing a song outside my window.  Listening closely, I could tell that it was Angela Zhang [Zhang Shaohan]’s song “Dear it’s Not love” [Qinaide, Na bushi aiqing].  The women singing had a beautiful voice and sang well. For a moment I felt at peace.

Yesterday evening I ate the last tangerine in our house.  We have now eaten all the fruit that we bought before the city closed.

We still have some vegetables — Chinese cabbage, white radish (I don’t like it),  and some garlic. We finished the milk several days ago. We still have a dozen or so eggs and a good amount of meat including pork, beef and lamb.

Currently buying fruit is no problem. When I want to buy some food in the morning, I place an order using an app on my phone and get it by noon.  There is not a lot of variety (only the basics like apples, pears, and tangerines), and not a lot (quantity you are allowed to buy is limited for some products).  Naturally there aren’t any special sales or discounts but I am satisfied with what I can buy. Probably because there have been some incidents of grocery delivery people catching the coronavirus, the delivery people don’t meet the customer in person.  A friend’s community allows delivery people to put packages into the elevator and press the button to send the elevator to the customer’s floor. In our community, the delivery person leaves the package on the first floor and we then go downstairs to get it.

There aren’t many shops open selling rice and vegetable oil. This morning mother told me that during the first ten days of the month the supermarket is having a special sale of 30 kilogram sacks of rice.  That startled me. Normally I would certainly have educated mother not to buy in such a large quantity because if you shop more often you will eat fresher food. Naturally these days it was a very nice surprise.

Buying rice and vegetable oil these days is not too hard however.  If I don’t go to the supermarket, I can place an order on the Dongjing website for home delivery.  It’s not like before when they offered “next day delivery” but at least we do get our orders delivered. 

These days the most difficult things to get are fresh foods like vegetables, milk, eggs and meat. In addition to the apps I already had on my phone for ordering things online, I have added five or six apps the specialize in selling and delivering fresh vegetables.  Even though I have added so many apps, I can’t get everything I want. Some don’t deliver to Hubei Province or our home is outside their delivery area. Others handle large group purchases only (that would mean our community would have to make the purchase. Some housing management companies have been organizing this.)  That would require a certain number of people buying making purchases every day.

As of yesterday evening,  I’ve made three tries to buy a box of fresh vegetables.  

  • The first day I ordered milk, eggs, fresh vegetables and fish. When i tried to pay, there were no fresh vegetables and fish available so the order failed.  
  • The second day there was no milk available so I ordered eggs, fresh vegetables and fish. When I tried to pay, they were out of eggs and fresh vegetables so the order failed.  
  • The third day ordered eggs, green vegetables, fish, glass noodles, and crust of cooked rice. When I tried to pay, eggs, fish and green vegetables were out of stock so the order failed.

I usually start online shopping and ordering at 10 PM. If don’t hurry up and place my order,  I often find that the things that I had planned to buy have now gone out of stock. After two minutes a notice comes up that the maximum number of orders has already been reached.  You need to work quickly. He who hesitates is lost.

Thanks to many years’ experience scrambling to buy tickets for popular performances I am disappointed that I have been a complete flop.  This has been a real blow to my self-confidence.

I’ll try again tonight.

Recently, several schools have been requisitioned as temporary quarantine locations, including somebody from our chat group — their dorm was taken over. Dorm rooms are certainly better for isolating people with contagious diseases than the enormous spaces that quarantined people are put in together these days. Schools are mostly in remote suburban areas, far from the densely populated city center; the rooms are smaller and more intimate, well-equipped with air conditioning, toilets, and other basic facilities.

I heard that in the past two days, many schools have arranged for teachers to return to school to help with renovations. Some problems do arise. Given the sudden nature of the requisition, it was not possible to get the students’ permission in advance. This will lead to conflict between the students and the school. 

As the students left school for winter break, they left a ton of stuff behind, including some things of considerable value. Putting away and storing student property properly is a huge problem. Most important thing of all is that a patient with a contagious disease will have been sleeping in your bed. Considerable meticulous work will be needed to disinfect the room and to reassure the students. Just think about it. If I were a student who had been living in a requisitioned bedroom, I would be very depressed at the very thought of it. But what else can be done? If the epidemic is not brought under control, no one will be able go back to school.

There are too many “emergency matters” and everyone is making sacrifices. I hope that these “sacrifices” will not be quickly forgotten once the “great victory” is achieved.

I really hope that all those opportunists and rabid nationalists online inside the Great Firewall will come to realize that all these “sacrifices” can and should have been avoided. We should not have to be going through all this. Putting on a show to celebrate all those “sacrifices” getting all teary-eyed would be vicious and dangerous. But I’m pessimistic about this.

I saw on Weibo that somewhere in Shandong, sanitation workers were given face masks for a photographs but then the masks were taken away. Ridiculous things like that happen every day.

Translated from Twitter February 10, 2020

Normally, a grass-roots person like me at the center of the epidemic should not be worrying about things going on far away. This time I care about anything related to the epidemic. Currently Hubei is relying on medical staff and medical supplies from all over the country to survive. Medical resources are over-stretched. If the epidemic should get out of control elsewhere, it would be a disaster for Hubei.

By the same token, I still worry about another issue. Currently, only Hubei requires both nucleic acid testing and CT scans for patients with suspected infections. Elsewhere, only nucleic acid testing is used to confirm a diagnosis of new coronavirus pneumonia. We now understand from public data published by the media that the accuracy rate of nucleic acid testing has an accuracy of just 30% to 50%. (Wang Chen, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said in an interview that only 30 to 50% of confirmed coronavirus pneumonia patients tested positive using nucleic acid testing). This means that many coronavirus infected patients are not diagnosed.

Obviously, this creates a very big hidden risk, as many places outside Hubei will resume work over the next two days. Once these coronavirus carriers and undiagnosed patients return to work, it is likely to spread rapidly.

I sincerely hope that I am just being worrying too much. God forbid, if the epidemic gets out of control in another big city, it would be all over for Hubei.

Lastly I want to mention something. I went downstairs to pick up fruits at noon today. I carefully checked the door of our building, and did not find any notices about the epidemic. Many other communities posted signs such as “Infection-Free Building” and “Fever Building”. Our community doesn’t have any of signs like that. Humph! This is unacceptable!

Chinese text

2月9日 武汉封城第18天

早上醒来时听见窗外有人在唱歌,仔细听能分辨出是张韶涵的《亲爱的那不是爱情》,很好听的女声,唱得也不错,一瞬间觉得有些心安。

昨晚吃掉了家里最后一个橘子,封城前买的水果到此为止就全部吃完了。

蔬菜还剩一颗大白菜、一个白萝卜(我不喜欢吃)、一小把蒜苗。

牛奶早几天就喝完了,鸡蛋剩十几个,肉还有不少,猪肉、牛肉、羊肉都有。

现在买水果不算很难,早起在饿了么APP上下单,中午就送到了。虽然品种不多(只有苹果、梨、橘子这些基本品种)、数量也不多(有的品类限买一份)、当然也没有红包补贴,但是能买到就很知足了。大概是因为发生了几起外卖小哥感染的情况,现在外卖派送员不会跟顾客直接见面,朋友的小区是让派送员把包裹放进电梯、按好楼层,电梯直接把包裹送上楼,我们小区则是把包裹放在一楼,自己下楼去拿。

米和油家里还有很多,今早妈妈跟我说一月上旬超市做特价活动的时候买了30斤米,把我吓了一跳,如果换作平时我肯定又要教育妈妈不要囤货、常买常新了,这次居然心中大喜。不过米和油现在买起来也不算难,如果不去超市,可以在京东下单送到家,虽然不像以前“次日达”,但至少还能送到。

现在最麻烦的是买蔬菜、牛奶、鸡蛋、肉类这些生鲜产品,我的手机里除了以前就有的线上购物APP,最近又下载了五六个专门买菜送菜的APP,可是即便安装了这么多,也不是想买就能买到的。要么不发湖北,要么我家不在配送范围内,要么是100份起卖的团购(这种需要同小区的一起拼团,有的物业会组织),要么需要每天抢配送名额。截止到昨晚,我已经连续抢了3天盒马鲜生了。

第一天下单牛奶、鸡蛋、青菜和鱼,付款的时候鱼和青菜没货了,失败。

第二天牛奶没有上新,下单鸡蛋、青菜和鱼,付款的时候鸡蛋和青菜没货了,失败。

第三天下单鸡蛋、青菜、鱼、粉丝和小米锅巴,付款的时候鸡蛋、鱼、青菜都没货了,失败。

一般晚上10点开始选购下单,不能提前加购物车,通常1分钟后就可以发现计划买的东西开始缺货,2分钟后预约名额会显示已满。速战速决。

凭我多年抢热门演出票练就的手速居然完全抢不到,对自信心真是一种打击。

今晚还要继续。

最近征用了几所学校作为临时隔离点,群友的学校就是征收的隔离点之一,直接征用了学生寝室。相比容纳上千人的大型空间,学生寝室当然更适合用作传染病人的隔离:学校多在偏远城区,远离市中心人口稠密区域,学生寝室空间小、有空调、有洗手间、水电等基础设施设备齐全。听说这两天很多学校就在安排老师们回校进行改造了。

不过也不是完全没有问题的。突然的征用,肯定不可能得到每个学生的允许,必然会造成学生跟学校的冲突对立;学生放寒假离校前,寝室里的物品肯定不会完全收拾干净,想必还有不少贵重物品,学生的财物如何处置保管也是问题;最最重要的是,毕竟是收治传染病人,隔离结束后如何消毒、如何安抚学生,都是琐碎细致的工作。设身处地想一想,如果我是住在被征用寝室里的学生,现在恐怕要郁闷死了。

可是怎么办呢,疫情不控制下来,返校上课就是遥遥无期。

太多的“事急从权”,每个人都在做牺牲,我希望这些“牺牲”不会最后变成“伟大胜利”的模糊背景。真的希望墙内韭菜和小粉红们都能意识到,这些“牺牲”本该是可以避免的,本该是根本不必发生的,拿这些“牺牲”表演热泪盈眶更是恶毒而危险。

但是我对此比较悲观。

微博上看到,山东有地方给环卫工人分发口罩,拍照后再收回,真是每天都有荒唐事在发生。

按理说我一个身处疫情中心的草民不该为十万八千里外的事情操心,但是这个时候任何跟疫情有关的事情与我都有关联。湖北现在是靠着全国支援的医护人员、医疗物资在苦苦支撑,一旦有任何其它地方失守,对湖北而言就是灭顶之灾。

同理,我还在担心着另一个问题,现在只有湖北本地对于疑似感染的病人采取了核酸检测和CT双重判断的标准,而湖北以外的地方还是以核算检测作为唯一标准。但是我们现在已经可以从媒体的公开数据上看到,核酸检测的准确率只有30%-50%(中国工程院副院长王辰在采访中说,确诊患者身上新病毒的核酸检测,阳性比率只有30%-50%),这就意味着感染病毒的患者一大半都没有被检测出来。

显然这有非常大的隐患,尤其是外地很多地方近两日会陆续复工,一旦这些病毒携带者和未确诊的患者返工,很有可能会快速的大面积扩散。

真心希望我这次是多虑了,上帝保佑吧,如果有任何一个大城市失守,湖北就真的完蛋了。

最后闲记一笔,今天中午下楼拿水果,仔细看了我们楼栋门口,没有张贴任何疫情相关的通报,其它很多社区在贴的“无感染楼栋”“发热楼栋”之类的标识,我们这边都没有。哼!太过分了!

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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1 Response to Wuhan Diary #14: The Eighteenth Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 9, 2020

  1. Jennifer Bonner says:

    Thank you for sharing. Best wishes as you face challenges during this extraordinary experience.

    Like

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