Mr. Y. is a 56-year-old man living in Wuhan, Hubei, China. A retired chemist, he lives with his wife in a gated community. He agreed to speak with Healthy Debate on the condition that his name was withheld and his voice was not recorded. With the Chinese coronavirus outbreak originating in his home city, he has been living in quarantine since the end of January. This interview was done on February 28, 2020.
“At this point, with hundreds of new cases still arising every day, I can leave my home, but I don’t want to leave. We are all scared of getting infected. I feel that it is likely I will get infected if I leave my home, especially since I am not in the best of health. At this point, I will only leave my home if I have run out of food or medication. I have friends who have gotten the virus. I feel so sorry for them. They die by suffocation; they drown in their own lungs.”
“There are people who are in good health and won’t exhibit any symptoms despite being infected, so you don’t know who to hide from out there.”
“Currently, all the stores are still all closed, including grocery stores. However, they are still operating and there is a system in place now which will deliver necessities to our gated community front office based on what you order on an app. Everything gets delivered there and I just have to go pick it up. This takes away the need to leave your immediate neighbourhood.”
“If you need to leave for something else, such as to get your medication, it becomes much more complicated. Most gated communities have very strictly controlled entrances. If you want to leave your gated community, there are officers at the exit who can grant you permission to leave. They check your temperature every time you leave or return to your community. They want to know the details of where you go and set a time limit for when you must return. If you are caught outside without permission or not wearing a mask, you will be punished. The rumors are true.”
“We have really come to appreciate the contribution and sacrifices of health care providers.”
“The biggest mistake was when the federal CDC [China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention] visited Wuhan in January and declared that there was no evidence of human-to-human spread of the virus. They said we did not have anything to worry about… they missed the opportunity to take aggressive measures during the most early, vital stage. The result of this was once the outbreak hit, our system was completely overwhelmed. No one was prepared for what happened. None of the hospitals could not handle this many people and there were massive bed shortages.”
“Through all of this, we have really come to appreciate all the doctors and nurses. Doctors have had a very bad reputation in China. Hospitals in China were reinforcing a quota for how many patients must be seen, in order to maintain a stable income for the hospital. People disliked them for being so greedy, solely focused on making money. Now, after going through all of this, we have really come to appreciate the contribution and sacrifices of health care providers. While all of us can hide at home, they must continue to work in the front lines. I heard that sick patients cough up a lot of sputum and health care providers put themselves at immense risk when they need to get the sputum for testing.”
“I can leave my home, but I don’t want to leave. We are all scared of getting infected.”
“I also feel like our government is doing a better job now. All of our health care expenses are covered by the government… The central government has sent officials to Wuhan to take care of everything – hospital administration, medical supply distribution, quarantine, even managing our groceries. The military has stepped in now, which I see as a good thing. The stricter the better, because it is safer for us…”
“Yes, things are finally starting to improve.”
As told to Serina Dai. Illustrations by Sarah Hansen.