Wuhan Diary #25: The 29th Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 20, 2020

Graphic by 巴丢草 Badiucao

February 20, 2020 The 29th Day of the Wuhan City Closure

While writing today’s diary entry, I heard about the latest delay in our return to work. We were originally supposed to go back to work tomorrow. Now that has been put off until March 11. In reality no matter how long they put off the return to work, essential work still has to get done.

Today on my WeChat groups I saw the so-called “Preparations for the Lifting of the Wuhan City Closure”. The procedure is supposed to go like this: If the number of new infections remains at zero for the area bounded by the Yangtze and Hanjiang rivers, the closure within that area will be lifted. If for an additional 14 days the number of new infections remain at zero for 14 days, the internal closures within Wuhan city will be lifted, transportation links between the three parts of the city restored. If after another 14 days there are no new infections in all of Wuhan then the Wuhan city closure will be completely lifted and links to the outside restored.

Although this document “Preparations for the Lifting of the Wuhan City Closure” is signed Hubei Province Anti-Epidemic Control Department” and does have a certain logic, I think it is probably a fake. It is too optimistic. Even if the political consciousness of the virus were actually to be quite high, how could there not be a new case over so many consecutive days? The Chinese Communist Party isn’t patient enough to wait 42 days. If there really were to be no false reporting and this program were to be strictly adhered to, we would have to wait until the furnace heat of Wuhan in July or August to rid ourselves of the virus.

The friend of a friend was sent to the new prefabricated hospital because he had caught coronavirus pneumonia. A few days ago, completely cured, he was checked and found ready to leave the hospital. How could anyone have expected that not only have his symptoms come back these past two days but that they are steadily getting worse. If he tests positive for the coronavirus, he’ll be admitted to the hospital again. I have heard that there are quite a few cases like this.

This virus really does conceal itself well. From a different perspective, we can only hopes that the virus getting more contagious but less virulent. Maybe we’ll just have to be consoled by that.

The wife of a friend, a nurse, got confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus and was admitted to the hospital. Her symptoms included coughing so a CT scan was taken that confirmed that her lungs were infected. Her symptoms were very mild however – coughing was the only symptom. She told me that she had asked several specialists about it. They all thought that she may have a third- or fourth-generation infection. Due to virus mutations, the virus has become weaker young people can recover on their own fairly easily.

There has been much discussion lately about the measures that Japan and Singapore have taken against the virus. The constantly victimized marks within the Chinese firewall do keep on saying, “I wouldn’t copy homework” but I think that many people are being overly anxious. As the virus mutates, it will probably become no more frightening than the flu.

The situation in Wuhan is so serious for several reasons:

  1. The virus is very virulent.
  2. The true situation was concealed early on so ordinary people had no idea that they needed to protect themselves.
  3. Medical resources were seriously inadequate; asking people to self-quarantine at home led to entire families becoming infected; and people with mild cases were not able to get treatment at the optimal time and their treatment was delayed until their case had become more serious.

Japan and Singapore are determined not to make the same mistakes that Wuhan did. An additional concern is that now that Japan has a relatively aged population, the coronavirus will stress Japan’s medical infrastructure.

The point is that the disaster that Wuhan has experienced is an unlikely to be repeated man-made disaster and is unlikely to be “copied” by others.

Very recently I have gotten the feeling that Wuhan is becoming “orderly”. I don’t get this from statistics (I never believe those statistics) but from the various measures being taken. Unlike very many other people, I don’t feel any gratitude towards a leader who was “entrusted with a dangerous mission”.

Looking back a week ago from the perspective of February 20, it is very difficult not to suspect that the Party Center abandoned Wuhan to chaos and disorder and left its people to fall into hellish conditions. I am not even reluctant to suspect the worst of motives, and that for some people, I am afraid the worse it got the better. This is because as things got steadily worse in the early stages of the epidemic, a new leader was “parachuted in” so that through “forceful measures” a greater effect of “saving the people from a great calamity” could be that much greater.

Making the previous leaders of Wuhan and Hubei out to be incompetent, corrupt, ineffective, and neglectful of their duty makes the new leaders look even wiser and more impressive. The newly assigned leaders will thus get a new victory by way of popular sentiment and public opinion and finally everyone will naturally conclude that they should “rally tightly around the Party Central Committee with xxx at its core, overcome all difficulties, and move forward despite all obstacles. ”

There are just political tactics and are really nothing more than another way of keeping the people ignorant.

Yes, I am still exhibiting my own “negative energy” and my “dark side”. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. It’s just a way of surviving in this Sodom.

However, those doctors and nurses who “without a thought of recompense, regardless of the danger”, those families destroyed by the deaths of family members, all those lives, all those sacrifices, they are all just pawns, all just tools.

As I write this I don’t feel anything at all. Probably that’s because this is what I expect so I can see things calmly. Do I think it is all just ridiculous? Am I being cold-hearted? No, I have just gotten used to it.

A friend who works for a foreign business real estate companies headquartered in Singapore well-known for its human management practices. He told me a story filled with dark humor. His corporate group asked all its employees – including its Hubei employees – to make contributions for relief of the area affected by the epidemic.

Ever since Wuhan was closed I have heard many friends making fun of how their company has forced them to contribute for epidemic relief. There were all outside Hubei though. This is the first time I have heard that employees in Hubei itself are being required to contribute. That must reflect a very strange way of thinking so I think it is worth writing down.

Yesterday some friends sent me some photographs. A bag in one of the trash barrels in their community was filled with small denomination RMB bank notes from five to twenty RMB. The people in my friend’s community discussed it and finally agreed that it was the “borrow a life” money put there by a superstitious person. If someone were to take the money, that would mean that they have tacitly agreed to “lending” their life expectancy to a seriously ill person. That in Wuhan in the year 2020 we can still here a story like this is also worth recording.

New sprouts have appeared on our honeysuckle. It has finally endured yet another winter.

Japanese Honeysuckle. photo

Honeysuckle, also known as woodbine and duck vine honeysuckle, usually bloom in early Summer. On the vine both white blossoms and gold blossoms flower simultaneously. When the wind blows it looks very beautiful like a flock of dancing butterflies.

I hope that before the honeysuckle blooms this year I will be able to walk out of our house.

Chinese text:

2月20日  武汉封城第29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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