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COVID-19 diaries from Wuhan: ‘A person can survive the pandemic but not bullying, fear, and hatred’

Kids playing and jumping in a yard. (Photo credit: Guo Jing. Used with permission.)

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.

Guo Jing: March 20, 2020

有人在群里发消息:治好回家后复发后有症状大家知晓还好点,还有回家复发无任何症状那才真可怕,建议不要过早溜娃溜狗,引起重视不能最后放松警惕啊!
有几个人应和了起来。每次发类似信息的都是那几个人。我开始替那些依然走不出家门的人担心,不知道他们内心的自我封锁什么时候可以结束

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

Guo Jing: March 21, 2020

封锁让很多人没有收入,可很多支出又没法停。封锁给越来越多的人带来了经济危机。湖北封城将近2个月,很多行业也受到重创。湖北的一个朋友说,她家附近的一个养鸡户由于封城买不到饲料,开始把家里的鸡便宜卖给别人,甚至送人。
人们承受着封锁带来的经济负担、心理压力,这些重压已经到了危及生命的程度。很多国家和地区都在给居民发放补贴。发放补贴是展现政府责任的措施。我们要把走投无路的人拉回来,而不是推出去。

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.

Ai Xiaoming: March 22, 2020

武汉被封城60天了,小区里生活平静。莺飞草长,门前的日本晚樱马上就是繁花满树。人们都宅在家中,网格员让大家每日在小程序里填写报表。为了得到今后顺利出行的机会,我也每日汇报个人隐私:在家吗?在家。体温正常吗?正常。住房是自己的还是别人的?居家自住。家中几个人?……除此之外,每天还在湖北健康码小程序上打卡。总之,我们的个人信息比玻璃都透明。
我们一直在放弃,等待上级有关部门决定自己的命运。如今的等待就是小区解封,可以自由出行,可以去超市买菜,外出见朋友;至少,湖边跑个步什么的。忍了这么久,动力是什么呢?无非是不得病,活下去。
可是,我们活下去了,世界改变了。你还相信一切会是从前的样子吗?
作为一个户籍广州现居武汉的人,我被告知,现在既不能去北京,也不能回广州。…如果武汉新增病例已经归零,如果健康码以及每日小区疫情报表都管用,如果说我们是健康的;为什么不能回到户籍或工作所在地?
另一个如果是:我们依然被假定为无症状的病毒携带者;那么,归零的统计、健康码打卡以及每日报表,不是浪费了很多人的时间吗?
又或者,我们属于疫区居民,不管健康与否,对其他地区总是一个风险人群。
在这个想象意义大于统计意义的推论中,个人的喜怒哀乐、个人权利和尊严,都无足轻重,不在考量的范围内。它依然在全社会范围内,支持对湖北人的地域偏见和恐惧。
一个人可能从新冠肺炎中幸存下来,却难以在排挤、恐惧和仇恨中活下去。
当人们无法应对一种困难,一个简单的办法就是找替罪羊。统治者也可以以此转移公众焦虑,缓解真正的危机,逃避被问责。这是原始的做法,但很方便。
人民的希望未必仅在于瑞德西韦,希望之有无,还在于我们内心是否保有对疾病带来的伤亡而深感悲痛的能力。……总之,把对方看做人之同类的情感,是缓解他人病苦的起点。

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.

Guo Jing: March 22, 2020

今天,中国民航局等五部门发公告称,国际航班目的地为北京的航班需从天津、石家庄等12个指定的第一入境点入境,在第一入境点做完检疫并符登机条件的旅客可搭乘原航班入京。看到这个消息的时候,我脑海中浮现了一些北京人用趾高气扬的口气说着:“我们北京人……”。
这些北京人确实有得意的资本,毕竟北京为了控制入境感染人数的增加,能把别的城市作为过滤器,还有哪个城市可以做到呢?北京各方面的资源都很多,应对疫情上的资源也不会少,可是却在这种时候将风险转移出去。这是极其不好的示范。

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.

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