The new Coronavirus
As reported earlier, Houston we have a problem. The reaction of the authorities is debatable. For sure, Wuhan government made a horrible mess. Millions of people left Wuhan to other parts of China and other countries before the government started acting instead of shutting down the news about it. The consequences could be rather disastrous for months to come. Surviving virusland will be a challenge.
The most shocking for me was the (in)famous New Year’s Eve Gala on 24 January, on all Chinese channels.
OK, my Chinese is too poor to appreciate any of this stuff but kitsch à la chinoise it is for sure. You get dizzy from all the overloaded effects and colors and whatever.
But for me it was like having a great party on a sinking ship, as nothing was wrong. Little or no mention at all about poor Wuhan. Nobody in the audience had a mask. Oh great. Al while they were placing in quarantine 20 to 30 million people, for a start. Separating families, making it impossible for people to get back home. A total disregard for the suffering of the people.
Of course the tone was, China is GREAT, everybody is HAPPY.
During the CCTV Gala the show switched to one of Wuhan’s main hospitals now to get an update from the nurses there who are spending their Chinese New Year night taking care of the many people infected with the coronavirus. According to the presenter, the switch was “very last minute.”. For the rest of the Gala, no word no indication.
Beijing restaurants and shops
Gradually Beijing restaurants and shops were closing for the Spring Festival exodus. Then it became worse with the new restrictions. Beijing is not yet isolated as Wuhan, trains and flight still operate while many people have difficulties to return to Beijing, where they live and work. One goes away for a few days, you take the minimum with you. Then you can’t go back. Where to stay, how to pay, missing your medicines, clothes, and all. Wonderful start of the New Year.
Then I started to go to my favorite restaurants to order a lot and take home doggy bag to eat at home. Groovy Schiller’s Bar & Restaurant was one (pretty full), Legend Beer another (was very empty already, later closed). Morel’s Restaurant was closed and not sure when it will open.
Most of my usual shops were closed (but might reopen soon), such as Jenny Lou and April Gourmet. Got a lot from Jinkelong that was operating normally and was well stocked. Using my bicycle as a pick-up truck.
The pictures talk for themselves…
Home sweet home! As recommended I try to stay home as much as possible, cooking (I actually love it) and watch my old VHS and VCD movies.
Controls and masks
Some people managed to come back to Beijing by train. See the checking on arrival in Beijing West station.
Masks and alcohol (disinfectant) are all sold out. I have enough as I keep them … against pollution.
Some people invented new “masks”, see the pics. I thought it was a joke till people were spotted in Guangzhou using them. How they managed to breathe beats me.
How long will this mess last? No idea. I personally worry, reading recent reports, that we might continue to feel the impact till early May (actually another long holiday…).
The reason for the somber outlook is the history of the facts.
See this in-depth analysis of the new virus:
It mentions: “In December, 2019, a series of pneumonia cases of unknown cause emerged in Wuhan, Hubei, China, with clinical presentations greatly resembling viral pneumonia.” So while it started so early (first case was on 8 December 2019), authorities failed to act and the epidemic was allowed to spread for a period of more than forty days before any decisive action taken. As a result, thousands of people from Wuhan flew to Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Japan before the city was locked down. Wuhan Mayor reported 5 million have left the city, many to Henan and other Chinese provinces. So, specialists think many new cases could emerge in the next weeks and months.
As the virus spreads, anger floods Chinese social media. The sheer volume of criticism of the government, and the sometimes clever ways that critics dodge censors, are testing Beijing’s ability to control the narrative.
The Chinese government will never learn its lessons from killing so-called rumors and systematic cover-ups of “problems”.
As SCMP wrote on 26 January: “What is clear is that China’s initial mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak means that thousands have been infected, over a hundred have died, and the economy, already weakened by debt and the trade war, will take another hit. But perhaps the most tragic part of this story is that there is little reason to hope that next time will be different. The survival of the one-party state depends on secrecy, media suppression and constraints on civil liberties.”