The following post is the thirteenth in a series of diary entries 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, eleventh, and twelfth parts of the series.
Check out Global Voices’ special coverage of the global impact of COVID-19.
This installment was written between March 20 and March 22, 2020. The original Chinese diaries were published on Matter News.
Someone sent a message to our online group: Some patients who recovered from COVID-19 may turn positive with symptoms or without any symptom. The latter is more terrible. It is better not to take children outside or walk dogs too early. We should not lower our guards.
The message attracted some echoing. Similar messages are usually sent by a few in the group. I started to worry about those who dare not step outside their homes. When will their minds be eased
The lockdown has left many people having no income, but bills keep coming in. The lockdown has brought financial crisis to more and more people. Hubei Province has locked down for almost two months, causing serious damages to many business sectors. A friend of mine in Hubei said that a poultry farmer nearby started selling chicken cheaply or even giving out for free because s/he could not buy chicken feed during the lockdown.
People have suffered from huge financial and psychological stress and the pressure has escalated to a life-threatening level. Many countries have released subsidies to their residents. Such measure is a manifestation of the responsibility of a government. We should help people who couldn't find a solution to their problem, instead of pushing them away.
This is the 60th day since Wuhan has been locked down. The life in my residential district is peaceful. Birds fly and grass grows. The Japanese cherry tree in front of my door will soon be in full blossom. Everyone is stuck at home. The grid controllers [note: officers of small district social management system] ask us to update our status online every day in exchange of a permission to go out after the lifting of the lockdown. I also report my private information every day: Are you at home? Yes. Do you have a normal temperature? Yes. Do you live in your own apartment or someone else's apartment? I live in my own apartment. How many people are staying in your apartment?…In addition, I also need to check in with the online application of “Hubei Health Code” every day. In summary, our private information is more transparent than glass.
We keep giving up. We keep waiting for the officials to make decisions on our fate. Now we are waiting for the lifting of the lockdown in our residential district. Then we can be free to go out, buy food in supermarkets and visit friends. Alas, we can go jogging along the lake. What has motivated us to endure all these? We don't want to get sick and we want to survive the pandemic.
Now, we have survived and the world has changed. Do you believe that everything will go back to normal?
I have my household registration in Guangzhou but currently reside in Wuhan, I was told that I am not allowed to go to either Beijing or Guangzhou now… If the number of newly confirmed cases is zero now, if the so-called Health Code and the community pandemic report systems are reliable, we are supposed to be healthy and free of virus. Why can’t we go back to where we have household registration or where we have work to do?
If we are suspected to be asymptomatic virus carriers, what's the point of updating our status and health report every day?
Perhaps residents from endemic regions, regardless of their health conditions, are considered a risk to other places.
All the above scenarios is the result of a rationality that governed people’s imagination rather than statistics. Under such rationality, individual emotions, rights and dignity can be put aside. Prejudice and fear against people coming from Hubei is embedded on people's minds.
A person can survive COVID-19 pandemic but may not survive bullying, fear, or hatred.
When people cannot handle a difficult situation, a simple way out is to find a scapegoat. The government can also apply the method to shift public attention, mitigate the political crisis, and evade responsibility. This is a primitive method, but very convenient for a way out.
Our hope is not limited to the Remdesivir drug. Our hope relies on our capability to feel remorse for the victims of the pandemic… compassion is the starting point to relieve the pain of others.
Today, five government departments, including the Civil Aviation Administration of China, announced that international flights heading for Beijing should first land in other airports, including Tianjin and Shijiazhuang. After passengers finish quarantine procedures and pass all the inspections, they can take the same flight to Beijing. This news brought the image of an elitist and arrogant Beijingese saying “we Beijingese….” back to my mind.
These Beijingese do enjoy the kind of (political) capital that they can be proud of – they have the power to use other cities as filters to suppress the number of imported cases in their city. No other city has such power. Beijing is resourceful in many aspects, and they should have a lot of medical resources to tackle the pandemic, too. However, they still try to transfer the risk to other cities. This sets a very bad example.