It was the middle of January. Workers and their families all across the country were getting ready for the lunar celebrations. China, at this time of year, is usually full of excitement and movement, never a dull moment. Smells of home-cooked food pour through the tiny alleyways and the laughter and joy of family members being reunited after a year apart often swarmed the streets. This year, however, was different.
On the eve of Chinese New Year, the Chinese government made the decision to ‘lockdown’ Wuhan, a city of around 8 million people. This decision was taken to stop the spread of the pandemic known as ‘Corona Virus’ or COVID19. Immediately after this, almost all cities in China began to implement similar but not as drastic measures to help contain the spread. At first, people thought the proposal would only be short-term, it actually turned out to be a lot longer.
As the holidays passed, unfortunately, the coronavirus didn’t. This pushed back dates for returning to work and even tighter restrictions on travel. I was told by my company that I must work from home until further notice and that we would be informed of when to go back to work in due course. We still haven’t been told.
With a lot more spare time on my hands, I decided to document life inside of my city, and the events that unfolded following the outbreak. Armed with my trusty X100F, I walked around daily to capture moments in time that will remain an integral part of this beautiful countries history.
The spirit of the Chinese people has been tremendous. United as one, everyone played their part in controlling the spread and reducing the infection rate. Medical masks were worn by everyone, and hand sanitiser used regularly.
Retired men took up new roles in communities as security guards. They were often seen helping to bring in supplies for people and delivering groceries for the elderly and more vulnerable. Those returning from high infectious rate cities like Wuhan were quarantined in their homes for up to 2 weeks and were visited daily by Doctors who checked on their health.
Day to day life was obviously affected. Only one family member at any one time could make a trip to a supermarket and documentation was needed to be shown to gain entrance to these public places. Supermarkets were stocked aplenty but were often empty by lunchtime. The early morning trip was vital to get the best and freshest products.
Almost 2 months have passed since that day I left work for my 2 week holiday. Still working from home, I can see the virus is beginning to be controlled. Daily infection rates are at their lowest, and public places have started to re-open. People are walking around and gathering at their favourite restaurants but are only permitted to enter if they are wearing masks, and agree to have their temperature checked. This is now a global pandemic. What China has done in 2 months to control the spread of the virus has been incredible. It is sad to see, however, that COVID19 is now spreading throughout the rest of the world and I hope that this virus can be stopped soon.
I suppose what I want to say is, look after each other. Take the necessary precautions and learn from what has happened in China. Be gracious to one another and help those more vulnerable. Try to stay at home and reduce unnecessary travel. This will be stopped, but we need to beat it together. I think it would be fitting to finish with what the Chinese say. Jia you Wuhan, Jia you China and now Jia you to everyone around the world. Together and as one, we can beat the coronavirus.