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When the most difficult is over: a Ukrainian in China spoke about life in quarantine and after it

In a pandemic, the whole world, from China to the United States, is experiencing similar problems and facing similar challenges. A Ukrainian living in Beijing told To the Voice of America about how the quarantine was carried out in the country where the outbreak of coronavirus began, and how China is gradually returning to normal life. Further - from the first person.

Photo: Shutterstock

On November 18, 2019, in strict Beijing late autumn at a temperature of +15 degrees, we received a message from the landlords about the danger: “A fatal infection was found at Chayang Hospital ...”

Funny Chinese react so fussy to seasonal flu, my wife and I thought. Probably, they do not have mass SARS, since in Beijing humidity in the winter drops to 15%. So, we, like many others, ignored this message and continued to live an ordinary life.

All Ukrainian holidays “died down” happily and we were expecting the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). This year it was much earlier than usual - January 24, and therefore January seemed like a continuous holiday. On January 22nd we went to check the final preparations for the New Year's fair in a large park in the city. Surprisingly, usually packed with people, the park was almost empty. Probably messing around at home, preparing for the holiday, we thought.

But beyond the "surprises" there were even more ...

The spring festival began with empty streets. It’s good that everyone went to the villages with their parents, it’s a tradition, it occurred to me. The next day, Starbacks Café did not open. There is nothing to do, the Chinese have an official weekend until February 1. Well, well, and the park, and why is the fair closed? A virus has been found in Wuhan. This is far, wait for the 1st and everything should return to the usual rhythm of life.

On the subject: Features of national quarantine: how different societies behave in a pandemic

February 1 met us with emptiness ...

It's not entirely normal. The working week should have started today, but it is not. Everything is closed, there are practically no people on the streets. We are in the news, and there are over 11 patients.

We're going to the market - it's closed. The store is closed. But Wallmart supermarkets are open. There is no panic, but the reality is becoming clearer. We started stocking up on food, but how long will it last? What if everything stops in 10-15 days? Okay, bought it. Self-confidence grows.

“Don't go out without masks. Stay home". This is not a ban, but a recommendation, but when you see empty streets, you understand that this is no longer a joke. The next day, at the exit from the house, we see a red tape, a message stating that the entrance / exit is only through the central entrance.

"Hello, will you deliver the water?" “No, only since February 10!” Going down to the lobby. There are machines with bottles of water (10 liters each). We buy 3 bottles (we are Ukrainians). The machines are empty the next day.

Another message from tenants: "Please go to the lobby with your passports and agreement and issue a house pass." For what? This is stupid! We have entry cards! Cards don't work anymore - only passes. Subsequently, we learn that all Chinese citizens on the Wechat social network fill out a daily form about their location. Any movement around the country is immediately punished with quarantine for the whole family for 14 days.

Quarantine. We sit at home. Dear children, your soccer practice is canceled until the situation improves. Reality is fully realized. What to do, there is Netflix! But it is banned in China. VPN, DNS servers and - voila, one joy in life.

“Dear parents, in connection with the epidemic, school lessons will not continue from February 17! Expect the following posts. ”

I follow the capital's airport. One by one, all flights are canceled by the airline until April or until May. The only Etihad airline holds onto the last.

We are sitting for a week. "Good morning, today is the 10th, will there be water?" "No, we start on February 17th." Oh God, it can last forever. Everyone measures the temperature. People only go to grocery stores and pharmacies. The streets are dead. Nobody took off the New Year decorations.

We sit for one more week. Children need air. I decide to take the children out into the street. What happiness! There is practically no one on the site and no one is pushing. We went out for the first time in three weeks. We ran over - even sweated.

Masks are no longer possible to wear. No one else and no one else. There is no choice. We put on masks old, dirty, but we put on, as the decisions of the government are not discussed. It’s hard to breathe. We begin to freebie, lowering from the nose only to the mouth. Masked breathing becomes unbearable.

On February 25th, my delivery arrives, which I ordered on January 28th at a Chinese company selling goods through the Internet Taobao. But delivery to the house is not allowed, so all the packages are right on the ground and waiting for the addressee.

But something is starting to change. They promised to deliver water 30 minutes after the order. People appeared on the streets. The carriageway is still empty.

This is how we met March. Office workers began to go to work. First, those who have their own transport. The authorities in every possible way ask to avoid public transport, although they did not stop it for a day. I decide to take one metro station. Who knows what Beijing is, they will say that it is a catastrophically empty subway.

The virus appears to be backing down. Power begins to weaken the belts. Our favorite market is reopened and again filled with fresh vegetables and fruits. Now you value such things much differently.

It is already easier to get used to the regime of certain restrictions in force in the following weeks. We can go to the store, to the market, and even earned pizza delivery. We go in masks, pick up delivery goods from the street, watch movies, study at an online school, run around with a ball in the yard. Oh, holy Beijing emperors! Barber, you opened !!! Finally!!

Meanwhile, the world is plunging into darkness ...

Mid-March is our first attempt to go outside the area. Everything is decided, we are going to the park! We register online and ... get a ticket for tomorrow. Access to the park is regulated. You can't sit on the benches, you can't walk without masks ... But at least it is allowed to walk, and we are not at home.

On the subject: How the US and the world plan to return to normal after quarantine

Meanwhile, the world is changing our reality again. The number of patients managed to drop to 80 people and returned to 140. All new patients were withdrawn from international flights of aircraft arriving in Beijing. From March 15, all passengers are checked for the virus directly at the airport. All passengers are quarantined outside of Beijing. Patients, from the airport and with their suitcases, are taken to hospitals.

Educational institutions are still closed. In restaurants, people are seated one by one at a table - even those who come in pairs. The restrictions on multi-storey buildings have not been lifted. All entertainment centers are closed (theaters, cinemas, galleries, tourist areas, amusement parks, etc.).

60 days on reservation, but there is still no understanding of what will happen next. Children are already starting to forget Chinese and friends. While they say that the lessons will be resumed on May 1, but this, perhaps, will be postponed. Several hairdressing salons and restaurants remained only signs and empty rooms.

However, after a significant drop in investment, agriculture and industrial production, in March the Chinese economy began to recover. Almost 100% of enterprises in such regions of the country as Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Shandong, Guangxi and Chongqing returned to work.

The government obliged the company to partially pay salaries to its employees during quarantine. Assistance was provided to more key enterprises of the country, it was possible to organize charter trains, buses and planes in order to return to work more than 4 million migrant workers. The farmers returned to the tea plantations and saved the harvest of spring tea, which is the strategic asset of the nation.

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