The ongoing news about the virus in China has been overflowing in the news, on social media and pretty much everywhere. I didn’t want to write about it, but given that I live in Shenzhen, I figured I might have to share at least how things are going here on the ground. First off, it’s not as bad as the media makes it sound. Let’s just take a little step back here and relax. I am fine. Milo is fine too. So, don’t panic.
The current numbers are at 24,604 infected at the time of me writing this article. They will probably reach 25,000 by the time most of you will be reading it. But amidst this big number, we’re also close to 1000 people that recovered from it (965 to be precise), compared to 494 deaths. (Check this great source of data from the World Health Organisation. It should be your only reliable source of data to know what’s going on)
I’m specific about numbers here to move away from media trying to scare people into a total state of panic. All major media push too much on the alarmism of the situation while omitting something very important. The extraordinary lengths through which the Chinese government has been going through to control the situation. Like building a hospital in 10 days in Wuhan, distributing masks massively throughout China, establishing health control checks pretty much everywhere and the sheer dedication of all the unsung heroes that have been working around the clock to improve the situation both in and out of the hospitals. So, here’s how I really experienced Shenzhen upon coming back so you get a better idea of how things are.
“When I landed in Shenzhen from South Korea, more on that in another article, I ordered myself a taxi, like always. While exiting the airport, there were multiple temperature scans and a paper to fill about recent travel history and potential symptoms that people had to fill. I had my mask on from the moment I arrived at the airport in Seoul until I set foot in my apartment. It is required by law to wear a mask outside now. I got thirsty, so took a water bottle out and removed my mask. The driver asked me to put my mask back on and wait until I am home, for both our sakes. On our way, the police stopped the car at a check point with a fully hazmat suit staff checking both my temperature and the driver’s. As I arrived at my building, I was welcomed by 4 security guards asking me which apartment I was living in, to register my name in their book and they took my temperature before I could take the elevator. I was happy to finally remove my mask and be greeted by an excited Milo, but Shenzhen felt very different than how I left it less than 10 days ago.“
As you can sense it, there is an extraordinary effort put into containing and controlling the situation and the potential spread of this virus. The streets are calm in Shenzhen, but people still walk about. Feels empty compared to what I’m used to. I personally limit myself from going out as well besides walking Milo and doing groceries.
This virus is not something to be taken lightly, but in this time of emergency, I would hope to see governments put aside any political or economical agenda in order to support China’s and its people’s efforts to contain the situation. When Hurricane Mathew hit Haiti, countries pitched in to help in every way possible. When Australia was ablaze just recently, countries contributed their help as well. So far, the main support I’ve seen was from EU contributing with close to 12 tones of protective equipment (barely reported by media) and Canada “pledging” medical assistance with no real plan behind it.
I see a lot more finger pointing and conspiracy theories with countries focused on simply extracting their citizens while leaving everyone else behind during this time of need. This is the real shock to me.
Worse, there is xenophobia growing in the world out of the fear this virus causes. Amidst these shameless acts, we see Chinese communities uniting to support theirs. And that is something I have seen many times over in China. Communities are strong. Becoming part of them is very hard and building a trustworthy relationship is also a big challenge. But once you acquire respect from the community, they will help and support you in your time of need. I’ve met many amazing people that supported me and with whom I tied friendship bonds with, despite the cultural difference and the language barrier. I hope people will take lesson out of this and provide help instead of judgement. Be part of the people that help if you can.
As for myself, I am home, with Milo. Working long distance with my company. Most of my foreign coworkers left the country not only because of the virus, but also due to toy fairs coming up in the US. The company I work with was very pro-active facing the situation and they quickly built an action plan for all employees. I am amazed not only at the work, but also at how much the company cares for their staff. They are a great example of what many other companies are doing in China for their employees.
You might be feeling that at this point, my view of the situation is almost too positive compared to what conventional media is conveying. Does that mean I’m not worried? Well, I’m not that worried, but remain cautious. I always have my mask with me, wash my hands and carry hand sanitizer at all time with me. Even if it’s just to walk Milo. I am following closely on how things are evolving as well. My only real worry is the flight cancelations happening all over the world to and from China. I’ve recently checked prices for a flight back to Canada (return flight) and it skyrocketed up to 5,000$ CAN. Most flights are very expensive right now and given the situation, companies should be looking at providing a support in their own way instead of leaving people stranded and hoping for a charter flight like the ones from Hubei and Wuhan when the situation reached a critical point.
At the end of the day, just know one thing. I am fine and Milo is fine too. If you’re worried, just send me a message and I’ll give you all the latest details! I’m leaving comments open below if you want to share anything. I’ll update more in the near future depending on how it all evolves. But I will much more likely share how my trip in South Korea went!
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