Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

COVID-19 diaries from Wuhan: What future after the pandemic?

A barber came to the residential district to do haircuts for the men in the community. (Photo credit: Guo Jing. Used with permission)

The following post is the twelfth in a series of diaries written by independent filmmaker and feminist scholar Ai Xiaoming and feminist activist Guo Jing. Both are living in Wuhan at the initial center of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the links to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh parts of the series.

Check out Global Voices’ special coverage of the global impact of COVID-19.

This instalment was written between March 15 and March 19, 2020. The original Chinese diaries are published on Matter News.

Ai Xiaoming: March 15, 2020

早上起来,打开冰箱,手在饺子那里停了一会儿。春节前夕,老家的侄儿儿媳给我们姐弟两家包了一千个饺子送来。家里阿姨回乡过年前也包了上百个饺子留下。这些饺子,现在只剩了二、三十个。按理,我吃掉也没有关系。但是,弟妹带着孩子回来,就尝不到亲情饺子了。
衣食无忧如我,也会叹饺子所剩无几;由此想到一些小视频里出现的居民生活匮乏的场景。有的老人不会团购,听说社区要送菜,坐在家门口等了一整天,然后失望地告诉外地子女,今天没有等到菜。
每次经历了大灾难和生死劫,我们这里,都有两种力量的角力。一种是强化和坚持我们对于权利和尊严的珍视,另一种是降低标准,每过一劫降一次。这样,灾难节节长,受难者把苟活当幸运。疫情过后,我们注定会庆幸自己的存在;但整个社会将提升对生命和权利的尊重,还是放弃或拉低了它的标准?目前各地都有以防疫为名侵犯公民权利,以及对弱者缺乏保护的情形。大难不死很可能留下长久的负面遗产,那就是满足于苟活且放任自私自利,以邻为壑。

This morning when I opened my refrigerator looking for food, my hand stopped at dumplings. Before Chinese New Year, my cousin and his wife prepared 1,000 dumplings for me and my brother and our helper also left me several hundred dumplings before she went home for the holiday break. Now I only have 20-30 dumplings left. I could finish all these dumplings. But then, if my brother’s wife and her children were to visit me, they wouldn't be able to enjoy these hand-made delicacies.
Carefree as I am, I still feel worried about having not enough dumplings. This reminds me of some video clips showing how some were deprived of food. Some elderly people who don't know how to join groups to buy online — they would sit outside their house, waiting for community workers to deliver vegetables. Quite often at the end of the day, they would tell their children in other cities that they did not get any vegetables.
Whenever people go through a disaster or a traumatic experience, they struggle between whether they should be persistent in defending their rights and dignity, or give up their principles. In the latter case, we give up some of our principles each time we experience a disaster. After a few disasters, the victims may consider mere survival fortunate. After this pandemic, we will probably feel lucky to be alive. But what of our society as a whole? Will it have more respect for human life and rights? Will it give up its fundamental principles? Recently, we have observed a lot of pandemic control measures that violate human rights. The weak are unprotected. Surviving a disaster may result in a long-lasting negative impact, such as satisfaction with mere survival and the consolidation of individual selfishness and interest at the expense of others.

Guo Jing: March 15, 2020

今天的阳光依然很好,连续几天天气都很好,春天似乎真的来了。一个城就这样从冬天封到了春天。
今天有人在群里发了最新的无疫情小区名单,我们小区终于上榜了。大家又关心起社区别的小区有没有上榜。下午,小区门口贴了“无疫情小区”的牌子,物业主任拍照发到了群里,大家又是点赞,又是鼓掌,又是感谢。

It was sunny today. We have had several sunny days in a row. It seems that spring has arrived. This city has been locked down from winter until spring.
Today someone in our chatroom posted an updated list of zero confirmed case communities, and our community is finally on the list. We also checked on other communities in our area. In the afternoon, a sign reading “zero-confirmed case community” was posted at the gates of our district. The director of property management took a photo and sent it to our chatroom. We ‘like’ the photo, applaud, and feel thankful.

Guo Jing: March 16, 2020

前几天有网友曝光了医护人员在疫情期间拿到的工资反而比平时少。这是因为医护人员平时的收入除了基本工资,还有绩效奖金,而疫情期间医院只发基本工资加补贴,有些人的工资反而少了。

Several days ago, some netizens revealed that medical staff received a smaller salary during the pandemic than usual. Medical workers usually receive basic salary plus bonus, but hospitals only paid them basic salary plus subsidy during the pandemic. As a result, some of them received less money than what they usually earn.

Guo Jing: March 17, 2020

湖北一些地方解封也有几天了,可是朝令夕改的现象却让人摸不着头脑。昨天群里有个麻城的朋友说:“麻城明天又要封城了”,有人问:“为什么啊”,这人也不知道,说是村里刚发的通知,还艾特了大家,说:“政策有变,高速明天早上九点将禁止通行,办理了通行证的请抓紧时间返岗”。大家都紧张起来了,让有通行证的人赶紧走。
有个湖北的朋友小区解封了几天后,突然有一天,她的家人不知从哪里收到的消息,说是不让说的秘密消息,据说他们市要再封城,她和家人赶快去囤了一些米、油之类的食物,结果几个小时后又有人说再次封城的消息是谣言。
朝令夕改会让政府失去公信力,也会让人们没有安全感,无所适从。

Some regions in Hubei Province have lifted the lockdown for several days. However, the rules keep changing and people are confused. Yesterday a person from Macheng city said in our chatroom, “Macheng will be locked down again tomorrow.” Another person asked why, but that person did not know the reason. She just said that they received a notice from the village office, which said: “The policy has changed. The highway will be closed tomorrow 9 AM. If you have a pass [permission to leave the city], please leave and return to work ASAP.” People were very anxious and urged those with a pass to leave.
Another friend from Hubei said her family heard from an anonymous source that their city would be locked down again. The message was circulated a few days after the city was unlocked. She and her family ran to buy some rice, oil, and some food. Then a few hours later, they were told the message was only a rumor.
The policy keeps changing, and the government is not a credible source anymore. People are insecure and restless.

A kid looked outside from a window. (Photo credit: Guo Jing. Used with permission.)

Guo Jing: March 18, 2020

有人说:“武汉的情况在好转”,武汉的疫情确实在好转,可是疫情引发的隔离、恐慌、牺牲、创伤是否在好转呢?新冠肺炎会给一些病人带来身体的后遗症,还会造成在武汉的人的心理后遗症,这需要多久才能好起来呢?
布鲁克林创伤中心的创始人巴塞尔·范德考克博士讲到创伤的时候曾指出,经历911的人们受到的创伤相对较小。他提到三个重要的影响因素:行动、关注、讲述
行动”是指灾难发生的时候人们可以行动…“关注”是指911事件获得了全世界的关注…“讲述”则是人们能够去谈论自己的遭遇,更不会因为讲述而被指责。
这次疫情中,从封城到封小区,我们的行动空间却在逐步缩小,我们被困住。就关注而言,武汉确实获得了全世界的关注,可是人们的支持一度被阻断,医生不经医院允许不得向社会求助,志愿组织的医疗物资被官派机构所拦截。很多关注难以转化为实际的帮助。关于讲述,一些讲述在被封杀,很多网友纷纷准备了微博的备用号。
当悲剧接连发生,真话被当作谣言,“正能量”却被鼓吹。悲剧得到的社会关注遭到限制,问责得不到回应,人们的情绪就会慢慢地被消耗,愤怒在消失,无力在增强

Someone said “the condition in Wuhan is improving.” The pandemic in Wuhan is indeed under control. However, what about the panic, sacrifice, isolation, trauma and sufferings related to the pandemic? Have these been healed? COVID-19 has wrought both physical and psychological damage. How long will it take for people to get healed?
When Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, the founder of the Trauma Center in Brooklyn, talked about psychological trauma, he pointed out that those who experienced 911 had less trauma than others. There are three factors mitigating psychological trauma: Action, Care, and Storytelling.
“Action” means people could act when a disaster happened… “Care” means the September 11 attack had caught the world's attention… “Storytelling” means people could talk about their experience and they wouldn't be blamed for doing so.
In this pandemic, the space for us to take action has been diminishing ever since the lockdown extended from the city to residential districts. We are trapped. Considering “care”, Wuhan has caught the world's attention, but aid from the outside was once blocked from entering — medical workers were forbidden to reach out for help without the approval of hospital authorities and medical supplies of volunteer groups were intercepted by government-designated organizations. People's attention was not transformed into action. Regarding “storytelling”, some of our stories were censored and many have to prepare backup accounts on Weibo.
In the face of tragedies, true stories are labelled as rumors while “positive energy” is promoted. When public attention toward tragedies is restricted and people's demands for official accountability go unanswered, emotions gradually get eroded and anger is overtaken by a sense of helplessness.

Guo Jing: March 19, 2020

武汉今天新增病例为0,这信息可信吗?
11点多,物业的工作人员在群里发消息说:“大家好,我们联系了理发师师傅,有需要的业主,可下来理发,每人20元。”马上就有男人到物业办公室的门口剪起来头发,有四五个男人还排起了队。
我前几天问一个律师有没有接到疫情期间的家暴受害者的求助。她今天告诉我,听当地妇联讲有个单亲妈妈打死了自己的孩子。朋友说可能是生存压力太大了,没有收入,因为封锁也不能出门,各种因素夹杂在一起导致了悲剧的发生。
可怕的是,她听说不止一个这样的惨剧。孩子死了,妈妈会被判刑。孩子很可怜,可我们也不能一味地指责妈妈,因为这是一个社会性的悲剧。

Wuhan has zero confirmed cases today. Is this information reliable?
Today at around 11 AM, the staff in the property management office announced in our chatroom, “Hello, we asked a barber to come to our community. If any of you want to have a haircut, please come. The cost is RMB 20 yuan (US$ 2.83 dollars) per person.” One man went to the estate management office immediately, and soon there were 4-5 men in the line.
Several days ago, I asked a lawyer whether she received help messages from victims of domestic violence during the pandemic. She told me today that the local branch of the All-China Women’s Federation told her that a single mom had beaten her child to death. She said maybe the mom was too stressed, maybe she did not have any income, or maybe she felt trapped during the lockdown — all these factors combined led to the tragedy.
What's more horrible is that this is not the only tragedy she heard of. A child is dead and a mom will be sentenced. The story of the child is pitiful but we cannot just blame the mom. It is a social tragedy.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site