Wuhan Diary #17: The Twenty-First Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 12, 2020

巴丢草 Badiucao 

February 12 The Twenty-first Day of the Wuhan City Closure

Wuhan has been closed now for three weeks.

If one were to say that for those first two weeks the city was bathed in fright, panic and anger, then you could say, for ordinary uninfected people like my family and myself, the third week was filled with bewilderment and anxiety.

Mortgages, car loans, credit cards, flowers, water, electricity, gas, daily purchases … Although we don’t go out, we do spent a fair amount of money. During this emergency, we need to look carefully at the the prices we are paying for various items so that our finances won’t suffer after the epidemic is over. Many young people, such as myself, withdrew our year-end bonuses from our bank account to get the cash we needed to fill red envelopes with presents for our younger relatives at home. Although I have saved some money and have some cash on hand, my debit card is empty. But I will need to use the debit card to make online purchases. What a headache…

Although these look like trivial problems, things just pile up one upon the other and so do the money worries.

These past two days we have gotten some good news:

My mother’s sister will soon be discharged from the hospital. Now her cough and fever are completely gone. After two days observation, she will take the nucleic acid test and, if all goes well, she will be discharged from the hospital. My aunt is not in Wuhan. When she was diagnosed, there hadn’t been many cases in her area so she was able to get admitted to the hospital immediately and recover very quickly.

Mother feels very guilty because once her diagnosis was confirmed, her family and a dozen or so of their neighbors were quarantined. She feels that she caused them trouble. Fortunately she was the only one who developed symptoms. She had been afraid that a coronavirus pneumonia infection was causing the fever her son – and my cousin – had. A test showed that he was not infected.

Best of all, the grandmother we all worried about is in fine health. She still doesn’t know that her eldest daughter was in the hospital. She was very lucky that she was not in Wuhan and so could get immediate medical treatment.

My colleague with a confirmed coronavirus pneumonia who was quarantined at home because he had only a mild case of coronavirus pneumonia, has already gotten much better. He still coughs a little but all his other symptoms such as fever, weakness, and loss of appetite have all gone away. If everything goes well, he’ll take the nucleic acid test next week to determine whether he has completely recovered.

I was finally able to place an order within the limited number of orders Freshhema.com’s website can handle each day. Although I wanted to order ten items but was only able to buy five. Surprisingly they were out of eggs but I fortunately was able to buy milk.

I finally got the thermometer. I had placed the order February 1 but didn’t get it until February 12. That, except for a group order placed with a foreign website, is the longest I have ever had to wait for something I ordered online. My family all checked our temperatures when it came. All normal. By now though, we are nowhere near as anxious about our temperatures as we were ten days ago.

Yet another bit of news was not so good.

Hubei Province has not delayed its original decision for to resume work on February 14. Therefore our company is already making arrangements to resume work the day after tomorrow. In principle we will work in shifts and do much of our work from home. People not working that day can use a leave day, first using annual leave and then, when that is exhausted, personal leave days, and after that leave of absence for a personal matter. That means that if, as many people anticipate, that this situation will continue until April or May before we will be able to go back to work normally then not only will I have lower income over the next two months but I won’t have any leave either for the next six months.

This needs to end soon. I want to get back to work.

We are nearly all out of medical alcohol. We only have half a bottle of 84 brand disinfectant left. The nearby pharmacy and supermarket are all out and we can’t buy it online either. I don’t know whether this is because production is inadequate or because merchants don’t dare put it back on the shelf because of government requisitions. Recently many residents have organized a buying group to buy medical alcohol in bulk all in big five liter bottles. Many friends have already bought it but I don’t dare buy it myself. Such a big bottle of highly concentrated alcohol would be too big a risk. I hope this does bring disaster.

The last two days a friend in another community has been searching in the “Pneumonia Patients Ask Help ” subgroup of WeChat important topics category “Looking for People”. Yesterday he told me that he found three people in his community who had been asking for help. Two of them had already been admitted to the hospital and he was trying to get in contact with the third. Today he told me that one of the two people hospitalized had passed away.

A week ago, I paid close attention to statistics. At most, statistics demonstrate the honesty of this government. If they incapable of speaking frankly, how can we expect them to “solve” problems. At the least, for each and every individual, these statistics are a kind of proof of existence.

Now, however, I don’t pay attention to statistics. Every person included in the statistics as well as every person who is not included in them, is a living, breathing person that many other people care about and think about all the time. The heart-breaking pain and the irreparable loss that many feel is the truth about those people, not something that can be captured in any statistic.

A Wuhan girl with the ID “Xiaohang” had been posting on the Douban website. These past two weeks she has been writing, every word weeping blood, about her parents’ sickness and death and then about her own illness.

On January 29th, she wrote “Waiting for Dad’s CT. I don’t know how long I will have to wait. I crouching on the roadside in a daze. This is the most miserable and the most awful day in my life. Ten thousand arrows to the heart couldn’t be worse than this. But I want to help my Dad right until the very end.”

On February 2nd, she wrote “Dad was admitted to the hospital, just like Dad took Mom to the hospital on January 24th. It was very rainy and so I didn’t have time to look at my mother much. It is a little rainy today too. My Dad kept trying to get me out of the room and telling me not to come again.”

On February 7th, she wrote, “Mom, you can take Dad with you. You will be able to breathe very well in Heaven. Don’t worry about me. I told him today, you must remember what I look like and remember my voice. I remember when I was little you said if I got lost they could find me again from my birthmark. If we meet again, you will certainly be able to recognize me.”

On February 8th, she wrote, “Dad, I have lost you too. Go to Mother and wait for me. We will all go home together.” That same day, she also wrote, “I’m so scared. I’m infected too.”

Every single word a deep, piercing pain.

Tears poured down my face as I read each word. She seems to be another me. On who parallels my own life in both time and space. When I started to write my own diary twenty-one days ago, I didn’t know if I and my family would make it. That now I can worry about my work and about other trivial things is because my luck was a little bit better than hers. But in the end there is no difference between us.

I found her page on the Douban website. Her page now just says “account closed”.

On December 21 of last year, she wrote:

“Coming back from a trip, I discovered only that my tomato had ripened. I took it home with me in my pocket. I wanted my parents to taste it. When I got home, my mother was the only one there. As if I were presenting a treasure, I slowly took it out of my pocket and gave it to her. Her first reaction: What? Did you grow it? I don’t want it, could it poison me? … “

How good it would be if we could go back to that day.

I hope she will be able to recover. When all this is over, if I can see her, I want to hug her. We are all survivors of this disaster.

Chinese text:

2月12日  武汉封城第21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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1 Response to Wuhan Diary #17: The Twenty-First Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 12, 2020

  1. H Flashman says:

    There are no words except, God bless all in Wuhan.


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