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COVID-19 diaries from Wuhan: ‘People cannot grieve freely for their relatives. How repressive!’

A construction site in Wuhan resumed operation. (Photo credit: Guo Jing. Used with permission.)

The following post is the fourteenth 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, twelfth, and thirteenth parts of the series.

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

This installment was written between March 23 and March 27, 2020. The original Chinese diaries are published on Matter News.

Guo Jing: March 23, 2020


I did not go out today. I worked at home and wrote diaries. Several days ago, a woman harassed by her superior called the hotline. She shared her experience on social media and some female colleagues of hers said they were harassed by the same person. They filed a complaint together and asked the company to investigate. Today, she told me that her company decided to fire that harasser and announced the decision. This is rare good news.
Today feels like a normal day before the lockdown. However, I know life will not be the same again. The desire to return to the past is associated with our memory of the good old days, or the desire to escape from the pain we have now.
I insist on not getting used to the current situation. When adapting to a perverted environment, it is necessary to compromise. I don't want to compromise too much or else compromise will become a habit. I want to stick to my beliefs.

Guo Jing: March 24, 2020


Recently, people are confused and worried about the “asymptomatic virus carriers”. Are we infected without symptoms? Are people around me infected without symptoms? Yesterday a Caixin report pointed out that recently there are several to a dozen people infected without symptoms in Wuhan everyday. However, they are not counted as confirmed cases.
Without doubt, the asymptomatic infected cases will make it difficult to end this pandemic.
Now, in many provinces, the newly confirmed cases are imported. How can we deal with this new trend? I really hope that we won't have to lock down again. It would be torture, especially for people in Wuhan. We cannot bear such torture again. More efforts should be paid to protection and treatment instead of isolation.
This noon, the COVID-19 Epidemic Prevention Center in Hubei Province announced that Wuhan city will lift the traffic ban on April 8. Traffic will return to normal. People in Wuhan can travel to other places with a “Green Code” issued by the Hubei Health Code system.
This is indeed good news.
People asked me whether I will leave Wuhan. I have no such plan unless something unexpected happens. I don't have any feeling about the pandemic news and no longer check the latest information every day after waking up. Lifting the lockdown does not mean the end of this pandemic. Very likely, some people still dare not go out. The sequel of the pandemic is still emerging. At this moment, I cannot imagine people going out without a face mask.
Last year I and some friends in Guangzhou who love outdoor activities founded a female hiking club. Several days ago, we talked about climbing Mount Siguniang during the May Day holiday. I said I would love to go. Today, they said happily, “Guo Jing can join us now!!”
But I am not that confident. I said, “I don't know what will happen.” Someone said, “You should be hopeful.” Someone else said, “You will be free by then.” I was encouraged and said, “Well, I will stay hopeful.

Guo Jing: March 25, 2020


I envy those who can go outside. I asked the community staff at the gate, “when can we go out?” He said, “now only people with a Work Pass can go out; the current arrangement is mainly for the purpose of work resumption.”

Guo Jing: March 26, 2020


Today someone posted on Weibo a photo showing a long queue outside the Hankou Funeral Home, waiting for the ashes of their relatives or friends. This photo was soon deleted. Someone wrote down their experience in the Hankou Funeral Home. They stayed there for two hours. The majority were waiting at the reception quietly, holding a portrait of the deceased person. Some took the ashes away. When they left, one woman broke the silence and burst into tears. Others just stared at her.
The same netizen said that there were many plainclothes policemen in the funeral home. If a person took out a cellphone, that person would be stopped [by the plainclothes]. Many said that they were “accompanied” by community staffers when they went to take the ashes. It is so ridiculous that people's condolences have to be supervised and monitored. Their family members passed away. Many could not say farewell to their beloved ones. Now they are not allowed to grieve the death of their relatives freely. How repressive!

Guo Jing: March 27, 2020


How will this COVID-19 pandemic change the global economy? A large number of foreign trade orders are canceled. Many factories making clothes, toys, electronics, etc. are forced to shut down. Their employees cannot return to work anymore.
As the manufacturing sector shrinks, employees will lose their jobs. Many people do not have much savings, but they need to pay mortgage or rent. After a few months, they will not be able to sustain themselves. Many workers in cities come from rural regions. If they cannot sustain their lives in the cities, they have to return home to the villages.
The resumption of production is not an easy task. Currently we do not have clear instructions in Wuhan. We have no idea which sectors are allowed to resume production. People from other regions in Hubei also face a lot of difficulties if they have to travel to other cities. Someone said in our chatroom that they were requested to do a PCR test and quarantine for 7 days upon arrival at Chongqing for work.
Some regions still don't allow people from Hubei Province to enter. Today, Jiujian city of the Jiangxi province set up a blockade on a bridge in Huangmei city to stop people from Hubei entering Jiujian. The policemen from the two provinces clashed on the bridge and a huge crowd gathered at the spot.
It started raining again at around 11 PM tonight. The rain lasted for several hours. When I went to bed, the wind blew against the windows and made a lot of sounds. I could also hear the clanging sounds of the wooden boards, steel bars and aluminum plates coming from a nearby construction site.
I couldn't fall as sleep and kept thinking about those who could not grieve freely for their relatives and friends, those who worried about their jobs and savings, those homeless who live under bridges and those who are stranded in Wuhan, like me. Many people are in the middle of a storm, just like Wuhan at this moment. After the storm, we will need to rebuild our lives like those blown-down buildings.

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