“Everything is back to normal, at least all most everything”, says a much relieved Namibian student via Skype. *Mariaan is a 20 year-old girl who studies medicine in Jing-hou, a city of 5.6 million occupants. A mere hour’s drive away is Wuhan, the birthplace of Covid-19.
With everything back to normal, buzzling streets, buses ferrying passengers to and fro, Jing-hou citizens have hit the streets shopping as if Covid-19 never made a turn in their town. In January 2020, the first news hit the rest of the world about a non-descript flu virus even though the first confirmed case was reported in December 2019.
The Chinese Government responded by shutting down movement in an attempt to contain the virus. Before lockdown was announced, residents were restricted to movement for one hour a day which eventually became one hour a week. Stripped of their own free will, as Mariaan puts it, they would immediately be thrown into jail for something as simple as not wearing a mask in public.
“Life was a prison and we would just go out for a bit of fresh air. We would not even buy our own food as shopping became an online experience and food ordered would be delivered to your doorstep. Only the big supermarkets would be open and no cars would be allowed on the street. Government made it a rule that everyone should just stay home. For the first time, we could hear the birds with silence our constant companion.”
Namibia went into lockdown on 27th March and it will lapse on 4th May. In China, lockdown was indefinite from the end of January after the new year celebration to the 3rd of April. “ Its so strange to see the things you guys do at home, cars are on the streets, shops are open and almost no one is wearing a mask. In China, even now I can simply take a photo of someone not wearing a mask and they will be arrested.
Everytime you enter a shop or leave from where you live, you would sign in and out for tracing purposes. You would leave your identity number, your name and your mobile number. Everything is registered, they ( Chinese Government) know what or who goes in and out”.
The Patriot enquired as to what made the lockdown a success in China. Mariaan responds by saying “the difference is the way everyone followed the rules. That’s why the virus is gone. The difference is between how people in China reacted and how Namibians are reacting. Namibians will be sorry for not obeying the rules.”
With Wuhan city slowly returning to business, social distancing is strictly enforced. Instead of taking elevators, residents are encouraged to take the stairs and even at banks, everyone ensures they keep a safe distance.
“If you can, don’t reuse your mask. Throw is away. We also would leave our shoes outside for about an hour after returning to our residence and we boosted our immune system by taking lots of Vitamin C.”
Temperature testing has been scaled up at malls, train stations, banks and every public venue. Students who studies in Wuhan but left during the lockdown are not allowed back unless they undergo a mandatory 14 days incubation period.
“My roommate went to another city and now she cant get back unless she is quarantined. In the meanwhile, hotels have become quarantine centres and this is where you will stay at own cost for the 14 days. But enter Wuhan without a negative test, you will not.”
When asked what she learnt from this experience, Mariaan says her faith certainly strengthened. “Before Corona, Chinese people didn’t even what God is – they thought it’s the same as a table or as a chair. Now they know there is an Upper Being.”