As some of you may know, I live in China.
As all of you know, China is feeling a little under the weather lately with a bit of a fever, a slight cough and a splash of death.
This is far more politically involved than you'd like to believe, and I'll probably go into that in a follow-up post, but I thought it might be interesting to hear how much the virus is actually affecting my own life short of actually getting into my body.
To be clear, this is more of a mild set of inconveniences for me, and I can't rightly use this platform to complain when literally millions are going through what they are. My life here is still, at the end of the day, more comfortable and convenient than living in, say, England, which seems, for the most part, to be trapped in the 1990s.
I've made a little video of my trip to the supermarket today before we get started on the following lecture of my life. It's somewhat interesting in places I suppose!
The virus has some pretty good timing, almost as if someone is actually playing Plague inc. in a hyper-realistic simulation. Like SARS in 2003, CoViD-19 popped up around Chinese New Year, the biggest holiday of the year and the largest human migration in history. What a great way to spread one's seed!
So naturally, the only way I'd get a chance to fly out for vacation was to book well in advance, long before any outbreak had happened. By the time we heard about it hitting maybe 100 people in one province, I was outta there, but the hysteria had already hit global levels and the airport on departure felt rather on edge, with 95% of people wearing masks. I really respect this responsible if a little over-the-top response.
It wasn't long before I was reading about UK-sized populations going under total lockdown, and cities surrounding my own (Hangzhou, Wenzhou, Taizhou...) were all going under semi-lockdown (where only one person per household may leave their home, once every two days, for supplies). It wasn't long before I was being force-fed a stampede of leaked footage demonstrating how the situation is far worse than the mainstream media lets on (which, for the West, can only rely on what they can grab either freely by state-run media, which of course has a very controlled agenda or a few drops of leaked footage here and there if it ever gets outside of China).
Video footage includes people being beaten to a pulp for suspicion of coming from Wuhan, being locked into their apartments with metal bars by their neighbours and fed by being delivered food at their windows, fights breaking out at town borders where vigilantes have set up tons of boulders, rocky debris or just weaponized groups to prevent anyone coming in ever again. Other footage includes those finding desperate solutions for masks, be it paper or fruit shells or cut-out water bottles over their heads, but the most important ones are insights to the hospitals in the epicenter of the crisis, in which doctors are having to wear adult diapers to shit themselves while they work because they simply cannot take a break for days at a time, others having major panic attacks and others having their faces malformed from the constant strain of wearing masks their entire lives.
The darkest footage is from those videos showing the people being dragged away against their will, the dead piling up in the hospital corridors, and the new, super-fast constructed 'hospitals' turning out to be little more than large rooms to store those waiting to die, beds constructed of wooden panels and a sheet on top.
Needless to say, I was somewhat relieved that I made it out of there, as Shanghai itself started hinting at major enforcement, too. Schools and businesses shut down indefinitely, destroying the lives of countless including people I personally know, masks became mandatory for public transport, but mask supplies remain at zero for weeks along with any other countermeasure products.
England was comparatively safe. I still felt a slight edginess, especially with the Chinese who were all still wearing their masks, and when I shopped around in my visit, I failed to ever find a store with their masks still in stock, and any large chains such as Boots were perpetually out of any disinfectants or alcohol hand gels or similar. This applied in London and in smaller towns such as my hometown, Leicester.
For the most part, however, people were not thinking too much about it. At least on the surface. But they were thinking about it just enough to mess with my life. I wrote the above perspective because I don't want people to think my situation in any way compares with the struggles millions are going through in China right now, but I wanted to highlight just how global the struggles have become.
We've all probably read about the rise in racist sentiment against the Chinese, and we saw this ignorance first hand when visiting the National Art Gallery. One girl was walking around with her top raised close to her chin, on guard. Whenever an Asian individual came within range of her, she would rapidly lift her top over her nose and mouth until the Asian went away.
As amusing as this might seem, it shows that ignorance has no borders. What does she hope to achieve doing this? Is her top specially designed to filter out viruses? Does covering one's face for 2-3 seconds prove effective against floating particles in the air all around you? Are Asians the only ones capable of contracting this virus? Did all Asians come from China? Oh well. Sigh and move on.
This was an early signal that the hysteria of the virus was beginning to spread at a much greater rate than the virus itself.
Later, when visiting friends, I was offered to stay at one of their mum's homes overnight. How kind! Unfortunately, she later discovered that her son was referring not to the friend with the same name as me, but me, the one who came from China. Instantly she insta-banned me from ever going near her, and we had to instead drive for 2 hours to another city where my friend lived, and he had to sleep on the sofa before driving me back again the next day to get a bus to go back this way once more. Fantastic.
While I was in this new city - Milton Keynes - I was eagerly checking my updates to see how the virus is spreading, any new information, and checking whether my flight was still on. The evening showed it was fine, a mere two days before departure. However, the same flight on that day was canceled. This was a very bad omen. Should mine follow suit, I barely had time to figure out another path out of England and back to China.
(At this point, everyone was saying 'good', calling me crazy for even thinking about going back, but hey, I had no choice).
Waking up the next day, it turned out that my flight, to nobody's surprise, was indeed canceled, and in fact, all flights were to be canceled indefinitely.
Stressed out of my head, I looked for new flights and stunningly there were only THREE flights that would go to China, direct or otherwise. A single flight from China Eastern costing well over $1500, Aeroflot and another Chinese airline.
Most of these flights were 30-something hours, some requiring you to change city during transfer. But one flight per day via Moscow was feasible and affordable so I went with that.
My money went through, but it was returned soon after. I called them to make sure they were not going to cancel and they assured me, but also said the price I was being quoted and was paying for was impossible, as they were not selling it at such a low price.
I tried 4 others and from different sites and all were rejected.
I was trapped, with dwindling money (already borrowing at this point due to lack of access to my main bank account because China is annoying), cats at risk of abandonment and a job threatening to fire anyone who wasn't back on time.
At the same time, rumours were spreading that by the 7th of February, all flights into China would be halted
It became a race against time as my panic set in deeper. But, after some hours, some food and some time away from my now one-night hotel room roughly the size of a single bed and space to stand up (bathroom down in the basement somewhere), I received amazing news that I could stay at another place for at least a week or so if needed free of charge.
That is until... The landlord of this place discovered that I came from China, and he was Chinese. I was swiftly perma-banned despite having been safely away from China since before the pandemic, and for a solid 2 weeks without symptoms.
At this point, I felt a little like enemy number 1. The leper hiding in the shadows in fear of being strapped to a ladder and burned alive. To be clear, I'm very white. This was not so much racism against me, but irrational fear which can and does result in the same thing eventually.
I had to get out one way or another.
It soon occurred to me that I had one more method of payment I hadn't tried yet, as I had never actually set it up to begin with. WeChat.
Wechat is like Whatsapp in China but it functions as a feature-all app where you can pay bills, book cinemas and, indeed, flights.
I spent some time figuring out how to connect it with my main account, verification, etc. and... HAZAA, I had one single way to access my main source of income.
Within minutes I had a surprisingly cheap flight booked. The next day I was up and outta there.
Arriving in Shanghai was somewhat surreal.
Other than those on the plane all wearing masks, it started off pretty standard. Getting into the airport itself was another story. Everyone was covered head to toe in scary hazmat suits, ushering people this way and that, temperature stations scanning your bodies and everyone was made to fill and sign forms telling them where you came from and how many contacts with Wuhan people you may have had.
My flight was the only flight arriving. Midday, Shanghai. Biggest city in the country.
This was kind of great. Going through immigration, there were only 3 foreigners including myself, so I got through at lightning speed. The question, however, was how was I gonna get home?
I decided to take the Subway was probably the best, or only, option. This is the longest and most annoying route, but it looked like nobody was going to use it so I'd at least get a seat.
I wasn't wrong - From the airport right into the busiest stations in the city, from Century Avenue to Lujiazui, Jingan Temple and finally my stop... I saw perhaps 30 people use that line.
Later, it was reported that on that day, about 100 people were found to have fevers and taken into custody. I don't like those odds, but too late to dwell on it now.
I was made to wear a mask before I could even enter, but it didn't look like I needed it given the closest person to me was a good 10 metres away or so.
Finally, I reached the outside world, fairly peaceful, empty streets before getting home to my healthy cats who I had instructed to stay indoors for the last week due to uninformed individuals being reported killing animals in the streets on the false rumour that pets were spreading the virus among people.
So now I'm here, my work and the government decided that we would all be staying home at least another week and actual work would not begin until March, and I get to sit here observing the pollution-free stars, enjoying the voluntary quarantine my friends have all been sitting through for the last 2 weeks.
Also my salary gets delayed a month. Boo.
As of writing this, some extra measures have been hammered down onto Shanghai. I can no longer have deliveries to my door, nor to my complex, and I have to now make a ten-minute walk to the end of my residential block to pick anything up I might order.
Masks are legally mandatory in all public areas, as are temperature checks; I got checked 4 times between home and the nearest supermarket.
Most big franchises and other home comforts have been shut down and so unless I cook at home, delivery options are largely limited to noodles and rice, but supermarkets are still plentiful.
There are helpful services and apps that can track, for example, the location of infected victims in your area and where they are being quarantined. I'm not sure how much it helps other than to scare people but it's nice to know I guess.
So far untouched by the virus itself, its aftertaste stretches right around the globe and sticks its tendrils in every orifice that doesn't welcome it anyway. And it's super annoying.
Things are changing on a daily basis so by the time I post it, it will already be somewhat obsolete, so if there's interest I may keep making some updates here and there.
How much of this is a result of the virus itself, and how much of it is media frenzy and political action, is something I'll delve into more seriously in the next post.
For now though... SIGH.
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I have a friend visiting here (in the US) from China. He came here several months before the outbreak and was planning to go back in the middle of March. At this point, I guess he will have to stay here until the end of his 6 month VISA, but I'm wondering about what happens when that runs out (because of the lack of flights from US to China).
It seems like there will need to be some way for such people to extend their VISAs, if they can't go back to China. I mean, maybe he can go to some other country in the meantime, but that makes little-to-no-sense, and would be incredibly expensive as well (here he's staying with family).
This is very interesting, definitely please try to keep posting about this. There is so much fake news and bait and switch narratives out there, most people don't even know what to believe.
We know some of the real numbers, if not all, are not what the governments report. I've seen some videos of people getting evacuated - so to speak - for health and security reasons. There are some videos circulating from doctors "coming out" with real data or different numbers. We have articles stating everything is under control and the WHO is doing everything to help, and at the same time there is so many articles and videos "leaked" pointing exactly to the opposite, where chaos is boss.
I've known you, at least from here, for quite a while, so reading your impressions and first hand experiences is quite the ride. Hopefully you'll be able to keep us updated with what I may dare calling real, verified news.
Best of luck Mobbs.
Thank you for sharing such a real view into your experience. I can't wait until you expand on the politics involved.
Also really exciting to see such a relevant and interesting post on Trending.
following with great interest.
Thank you for sharing your personal experience.
My uncle is currently in NanJing, and he teaches in WuHan. He got out of the city before the quarantine. Last, he told me that he and his colleagues were required to teach via video or audio to people still locked down in the area.
He was reluctant to talk in detail about the situation over where he’s at on WeChat. I don’t blame him. This certainly offers the perspective I needed.
If it wasn't so real, I'd have sworn this is a snippet from a horror movie. Other than a few videos of people walking on empty streets, this is the closest account I've gotten of the effect of Corona virus.
A lot of people are misinformed and VERY scared. Stay safe, stock up on alcohol and food, stay indoors with your cats and just watch
porn videos on YouTube or something.
I'd like to share this story on Twitter, do you have one? I'd like to tag you.
Finally some newsworthy content!
Great post @mobbs, shared it on a relevant subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/Coronavirus/comments/f2z6ji/life_inside_china_during_the_covid19_virus/
Thanks for sharing your insight, never been to China myself.
Reading a firsthand, uncensored information about the situation of things over there is quite refreshing. I have always known that this will have a political undertone. Please continue to update us and FYI, I will be sharing this on twitter.
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wow how crazy is all that? I can't believe you were turned away for being from china. Its great to read a 'real story' and first hand experience. It must be just as crazy seeing everywhere empty as seeing the dudes in the suits. Stay well. thanks for the post
Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m on the other side of the world, and it is still an intriguing worrying theme.
Definitely more indepth than anything we're getting on the #fakenews over here in the US
Thanks for sharing this, I was glad to see this first hand from someone on the ground! This is what I like about social media and steemit. I look forward to any more posts on this subject!👍
I have a friend here who has relatives in China and she confirms that the true numbers are way higher. I hope you're as prepared as you can be. Stay safe and keep those reports coming!
Thank you for your information. My heart goes out to all the people dealing with such a lockdown situation. You have indeed experienced a crazy ordeal thus far. Prayers for continued safety and financial needs met.
covid-19 ? stupid. china 19 virus
Shared on Facebook. Thanks
Thank's for sharing your personal experience on-site. And good luck!
Thanks for sharing
Glad to see this post on trending page, seems curation is now more effective. Steemit is banned in China, right ?
thanks for reporting first hand (is it actually dangerous for you?)
fear spreads fast. Just checked last week at a pharmacy in a bigger German city. All high quality face masks had been sold out.
Thanks, friend! I was looking for something like this to read. Great first hand account of how this is impacting an individual.
Hey, what do you think is the long-term effects then? Say, 6-10 months down the line? I heard that by April that the virus will essentially be gone and so then this will all be a thing of the past. Do you believe that? I mean the virus, in my opinion, is actually a positive for crypto as it making traditional stocks riskier but I am just concerned whether I believe the hype of the whole situation as it is. If the situation is as real and dangerous as the media will make us believe then will this be a further driving factor for crypto? It is always so hard to call these things and wit such an important year for cryptocurrencies and particularly bitcoin then knowing what the big markets for crypto, namely, in this case, China, are going to be doing in the coming weeks and months is very valuable for everyone.
Thanks for posting this. This is the most I've heard of the situation as I do not watch the mainstream news. I feel it is more accurate than any propaganda the mainstream will shoot at us.
hey this is great information its a shame this is happening however I do feel this virus is man made. I believe there a cure to all illness I do not trust any government at all. if this spreads unfortunately lots of people will die and to make matters worse it could start an economic crash for the world my prayers are with those who are suffering right now peace and love
thank you so much for sharing true situation of china right now. and its an emergency for china peoples and they are fighting with corona bravely and also fighting to save the world
A very delicate subject at a delicate moment in history in general. Excellent post. Please continue to share your situation, so we will know how you are. Our Steemit community must always be united and more in difficult times.
Thinking of you in this very difficult time you are experiencing.
That is a fascinating read and I hope that you and your cats remain safe and healthy. I am ethnically HK Chinese and live in Cambridge. I am curious as to why you think England is stuck in the 1990’s. I’d be interested to hear your perspective 🙏🏽
Very good chronicle!...Cheers!
Thanks for sharing a firsthand experience and uncensored information about the situation of things over China is quite refreshing. Please continue to update us.
ohhh now,,, death the way to the afterlife
And a perfect example for me of what Steem should be about.
My daughter begins studying Chinese at university in September.
Her course will include one or two years in China so we are keen to learn what 'real life' is like in China - particularly in this very difficult time.
I was particularly fascinated by the video of the trip to the supermarket. I hope you can make more of these.
Dreadful and surreal situation.Reality is again stranger then fiction. Wishing you and all of us all and only the best.
I feel ashamed to be British reading how you were treated! People should actually educate themselves rather that relying on the press and gossip and then becoming irrational.
Thanks for sharing this inside view with us. Seriously a well written and concisely expressed post. Being of asian origin, I feel you on the retro west. I work with exporters there and in the forwarding industry. Not only are many factories on lockdown, but also shipping vessels and airlines aren't shipping any goods either.
I read the story to the end. Please be careful and share all new development. Thank you for sharing @mobbs
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Luckily still no cases around me either - for 3.5 km!
Great write up from a first person narrative. I do believe the Chinesse government is mostly an authoritarian regime, but you also have to take into consideration, how quickly would have this virus spread if they had not enacted any of the tactics you describe in your post? That is probably not something that can ever be accurately calculated...
I hope everything will be ok in China soon.
its so dangerous for human
I live in a small but prominent city in Australia and fear of the virus is high.
Much of Australia is on fire and there have been extreme weather conditions (flooding rain, dust storms, heat waves, hail, thick fog banks).
A few days ago a man collapsed in the city center. This was on a day with record high temperatures. No one would give him CPR because everyone assumed he had the virus. The only article I saw about the situation didn't say whether the man survived until the EMTs arrived.
There also a lot of fear and resentment about the annual wave of Chinese students who are scheduled to come in for a new school term at Australian universities. There's been a public travel ban to keep the students out.
News from China always do not get exposed to the world
A remarkable report, the kind of record that may become a primary source in years to come. So happy you are well. Hope you stay that way. Read on Discord that you had finally caught a flight back. Brave, brave, brave. But then there were the cats :)) And with hysteria about cat transmission, they needed you. I would have have returned for the cats, also. Be well. Hand washing, as you know, is more effective than sanitizer (with traditional flu virus). https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2019/09/30/Studies-Show-Hand-Washing-May-Be-More-Effective-Than-Sanitizer.aspx?Page=2 Looking forward to more reports, especially to reports that you are doing well.
The biggest question remains... If Bitcoin mining farms are being forced to close down - is Bitcoin the only reason for the bioweapon to be released?
This is really frustrating and sad for the people. There are many interesting things here that we yet do not know. I am interested on how this will affect the western world in short coming days.
If anything everyone where need to prepare for this.
Really hoping things normalize soon, and this terrible circumstance ends as well as you could wish for. I do appreciate your excellent post on this situation.