Wuhan Diary #34: The 38th Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 29, 2020

February 29 38th Day of the Wuhan City Closure

This day comes once every four years. I never ever thought that I would be spending it like this.

Yesterday I was still asking where those several hundred new coronavirus cases found each day in Wuhan come from. Today Mother told me that her two elder sisters yesterday got confirmed diagnoses of coronavirus pneumonia. An elderly auntie who lives alone ran out of food after twenty days. About a week before she got her diagnosis, she spent several days shopping. I heard she joined a group purchasing group as well. Two days later she developed a low-grade fever. She probably believed then that she could leave things to luck but her condition suddenly got worse two days later. Her breathing became labored and by the time she called the 120 emergency assistance number she had nearly fainted. A CAT scan she got after being taken to the hospital confirmed her symptoms but it was already too late to take the nuclei acid test to confirm the diagnosis so she was sent to a university dormitory to be quarantined and so the coronavirus pneumonia diagnosis was not confirmed until the next day. According to what Mother said, when they were in contact that auntie had not yet gone to the hospital.

The nerves of Wuhan people have already been stretched too tight for too long. People are getting a bit lazy and careless although that attitude is not going to get them anywhere.

Yesterday in a friends group on WeChat I read a former colleagues account of what he learned from his medical treatment. I hadn’t known that he was infected. Fortunately he was not in Wuhan, got to the hospital early and was young and in good physical condition. Now he has been cured and discharged from the hospital. After that, he had to be quarantined for 14 days. Regardless, it is good to hear that he is all better now.

Today while I was talking with a classmate I heard for the first time that her relatives, an elderly couple, had been infected. Her uncle had died and her aunt was still in the hospital but is fortunately getting better now. By some coincidence, that old couple had experienced the farce of that February 9th Wuchang centralized collection of people for admission to the hospital. That was how I learned that that bus that took the old man to the hospital in the pre-dawn hours there was a seriously ill man who had passed away that evening.

The daughter of that old couple and my classmate’s cousin both are employed in a Wuhan media company and so have a wide range of social relationships. My classmate said that she had found everyone whom she wanted to contact within a few days but it was still too late to find hospital beds for her parents.

Three weeks have passed since then but I am afraid the memories are still as fresh and painful as they were at the time. Although it feels that things have greatly changed since then but I still want to record these things. The biggest impression that this epidemic has made on me is this: someone may live as an immoral person making pretensions of virtue for decades yet they will revert to form overnight. For many people, their lives of “being satisfied with just adequate savings” and “spending their years in peace” were shattered in an instant.

Although I have always have known this, but when you are hit head-on by a tsunami you can still feel that it is all preposterous.

China Daily’s interview with Dr. Zhang Wenhong, director of the Contagious Diseases Department of Fudan University’s Huashan Hospital was censored. The article contained a section in which when Dr. Zhang was asked whether the coronavirus came to China from elsewhere, Department Director Zhang said that he believes that it did not. The report continued,

In response to some claims that the virus was imported from elsewhere, Zhang said he believes it originated in Wuhan.

If that was the case, we should have seen patients emerging from different regions in the country around the same time rather than their concentration in Wuhan,” Zhang said. “Moreover, influenza could be easily differentiated from the coronavirus infection through CT scan.”

China Daily “Expert: Control of virus within reach

I don’t know if this exclusive interview was censored because it is not harmonized with

Dr. Zhang Wenhong photo: Wenhui

the main propaganda melody. After all, the current opinion guidance is actively aimed at “shifting the blame” to the United States. Director Zhang Wenhong in the interview displays that same straightforwardness and honesty seen in all his interviews and so is trustworthy. Zhang Wenhong can be considered to be a “net star” physician born of the new coronavirus epidemic. I like him very much because the way he choose his words and his way of thinking shows a deep humanity, because of his honesty, and doesn’t trim his sails for anyone. He is far from being one of those frosty mouthpieces of the Chinese Communist Party. I fear though, that just because of that, he is destined never to become a “Zhong Nanshan”.

I often think of a saying that I saw on a Weibo microblog. “We’ll do it at any cost.” Many people think that they themselves are the “we”. They are instead “the cost”.

I thought this was so even before the epidemic. Living in Wuhan during this epidemic I am more certain of it than ever before.

Tomorrow the new Internet regulations go into effect. I’ll spend the last few hours before it goes into effect busily downloading all my files from my online storage space.

Chinese text:










CHINA DAILY对复旦大学附属华山医院感染科主任张文宏医生的专访被删了,其中有一段,被问及新冠病毒是否是从外国传入时,张文宏主任认为不会,报道中写道:






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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3 Responses to Wuhan Diary #34: The 38th Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 29, 2020

  1. Marco Fumian says:

    Hi David, my name is Marco Fumian and I teach Chinese language and literature in an Italian University. Thank you very much for sharing your translations. As I would also like to translate Fang Fang’s diary, or at least parts of it, on my online journal (sinosfere.com), I have a few questions to ask you. First of all I would like to ask you if you needed permission from the author to publish your translations. As far as I was told, there are already some publishers interested in publishing this work in a few Western languages, so I am not sure whether she would appreciate someone translating it online. At the same time, I also think that her diary was written publicly as an open source, and my journal is a no-profit publication, so there shouldn’t be any legal limitation in my reproducing it in Italian. Then I would also like to ask you what are in your opinion the best diary entries to read for a Western reader. This might facilitate my selection. Finally, I see your translation starts from number six, while the first translations apparently were taken up by Badiucao. Could you tell me how this worked? I hope I’m not bothering you, many thanks for reading and thanks thanks thanks if you can reply! Marco


    • Marco,
      I don’t know the Wuhan diarist. I get the Chinese text from the Chinese-Australian blogger @badiucao . I haven’t been asking for permission to publish my translation. I assume that many of the people are pleased that more people can read what they have posted on the Internet because of my translations. Nobody has ever complained. I nearly always put the Chinese text after my translation because materials in China considered to be sensitive are often deleted, if not at first after a number of months. I suppose you would do well to talk with a legal expert in your country about publication since the law can vary from country to country.
      Fang Fang’s is very interesting. I have read some of them on the Radio France International Chinese language website.
      I suppose some of the Wuhan Diary entries are interesting since they give an understanding of daily life during an epidemic. Others are interesting because they help understand who China works. During this time of great tensions, Chinese people seem to be more willing to speak out than usual.

      Good luck,
      David Cowhig


  2. Sandeep says:

    Hello David, I have been meaning to comment on your blog for the longest time now and am following #WuhanDairy regularly. I really admire the entire population of Wuhan for sacrificing their lives to minimize the impact of this virus for rest of the country and the world. The virus is spreading to many countries and it looks like it is going to take a huge toll on the many countries.
    Strength to you and your family. Blessing from India.


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