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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

我今天没有下楼,在房间里工作、写日记。前几天有个被领导性骚扰的女性打074热线来咨询,她把自己的经历发了朋友圈,结果有几个女同事说她们也曾被这个领导性骚扰。她们联合起来向公司投诉,要求公司调查处理。今天,这名咨询者告诉我,公司调查后决定开除骚扰者,并在内部发了公告。真是个难得的好消息。
今天似乎回到了封城前的生活,可是我心里又知道无法回到过去。我们有时候想回到过去是怀念曾经某个时刻的美好,或者想要逃避现在的痛苦。
其实,我内心一直抗拒去适应现在的生活,人为了适应变态的生存环境必然要做出一些妥协。我不想做太多的妥协,更害怕妥协成为习惯,想要坚守那些我珍视的信念

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

这几天无症状感染者让大家充满了疑惑和担忧,自己是不是无症状感染者,身边是否有无症状感染者。昨天财新的报道指出,武汉最近每天还能检测出几例或十几例无症状感染者,但并没有计入确诊病例。
无症状感染者的存在无疑增加了疫情的防控难度。
现在很多省份的新增确诊病例都是从境外入境的人。我们要怎么应对疫情的这一新发展趋势呢?我真心希望不要再有封锁了,再次封锁简直就是酷刑,尤其是对武汉人而言,我们经不住这样的折磨啦。我们要做好防护和救治,而不是隔离
中午,湖北省新型冠状病毒感染肺炎疫情防控指挥部发了通告,4月8日零时起,武汉市解除离汉离鄂通道管控措施,有序恢复对外交通,离汉人员凭湖北健康码“绿码”安全有序流动。
这算是一个好消息。
有人问我会不会离开武汉。短期内没有特别的理由我不会离开。我已经对此类消息变得无感了。我不再每天一醒来就去看最新的疫情信息了。解封不代表这次疫情的结束,可能还是会有人不敢出门,很多后遗症也都需要面对。我现在都很难想象大家都不戴口罩出门的场景。
去年在广州跟一群热爱运动的朋友成立了一个女子登山队,前些日子大家在讨论五一去四姑娘山徒步。那个时候我说好想去。今天,她们倒是高兴地说:“郭晶可以出来啦!!”
我好像没啥信心,说:“哎呀,不知道到时候会咋样呢。”有人说:“还是可以期待一下!”有人说:“到时候就重获自由了!”我收到了一些鼓励,说:“好吧,我期待一下!”

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

我羡慕那些在外面的人,就问门口的社区工作人员:“我们什么时候可以出去呀?”他说:“现在有复工证明才能出,现在主要是为了复工。”

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

今天有人在微博上发了一张照片,内容是汉口殡仪馆门口领骨灰的长队,很快这条微博就不见了。有人写下自己去汉口殡仪馆的经历,TA在里面待了两个小时,人们大都是默默地抱着遗照在对接点等待,或抱着骨灰盒离开,殡仪馆很安静。TA要离开的时候一个女人放声大哭,大家呆呆地看着她。
网友说殡仪馆到处都是便衣,甚至一抬手机就有人上前制止。有不少人说去领骨灰盒的时候有社区工作人员的“陪同”。人们的哀悼也被看管了起来,真是荒谬至极。他们的家人去世了,他们很多人都没能跟家人见上最后一面,现在又不能以自己的方式哀悼逝去的亲人,这是何等的压制。

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

新冠肺炎在全球范围的传播对全球化的经济结构将会带来什么样的影响?很多外贸厂的外贸订单被取消,涉及的行业有服装、玩具、电子等,很多厂被迫关停。这些外贸厂的工人想复工也没得复了。
很多产业开始大规模地缩水,接下来会有大规模的失业。很多人都没有存款,还背负着房贷、房租等,几个月没有收入生活就会难以为继。很多人在城市里都是外来者,如果在城市里生活不下去,就必然要回到农村。
复工也并非易事。现在武汉关于复工的规定尚不明确,不知道哪些行业可以复工。湖北其它城市去外地复工的人也遇到种种困难,一个交流出城、复工经验的群里有人说,他到重庆后要做核酸检测加居家隔离7天才能上班。
还有的地方依然在拒绝湖北人。今天,江西九江拒绝湖北人入内,在湖北黄梅小池桥头设置封锁线,结果两地警察发生冲突,引来了很多人的聚集。
晚上十一点多,天又下起了雨,连续下了好几个小时。睡觉的时候,风吹得窗户晃荡地响,时而传来工地上的木板、钢条、铝片被吹倒的撞击声。
想到那些无法以自己的方式哀悼逝去的亲朋的人,想到那些在为生计焦虑着的人,想到那些住在桥洞里的人,想到那些和我一样还被困着的武汉人,我久久难以入睡。很多人和此刻的武汉一样在暴风雨的敲击中,在灾难带来的暴风雨后,人们会像那些被吹倒的房屋一样需要重建。

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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