‘We are now under a lockdown’. . . Zim student in coronavirus-hit Wuhan shares his experiences
I AM a 26-year-old former Solusi Adventist High School student currently in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak-where I am doing a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering at Wuhan University of Technology.
I have been in China for four years now. The news of the outbreak of the coronavirus caught me unguarded because I had already made plans to travel to other cities close to Wuhan but it turned my plans upside down.
The first time I heard about the coronavirus was on the news when it was announced that the deadly virus which I had never heard about before had broken out in a district called Hankou, which is not very far from Wuhan University of Technology.
According to the news, the killer virus evolved from a market in Hankou where they sell all kinds of meats.
Sadly, the market is not very hygienic and that probably created conditions for the outbreak of the virus.
Due to the severity of the situation, the university where I study had to alert us about the disease. We were supposed to stay indoors wearing face masks all the time.
Wearing face masks is compulsory for everyone as part of measures to try to get the transmission of the virus under control. We are now under a lockdown and as a result many shops closed. Only a few shops around Wuhan remained open and because of that the cost of food such as vegetables shot up dramatically.
The lockdown means people who are in Wuhan can’t leave the city and those in other areas can’t come into Wuhan.
A general fear pervades the city. Since the lockdown began, it has become hard to interact with other people because everyone is scared of getting infected.
More importantly, people are advised to stay indoors. As a result, the streets of Wuhan are empty; you hardly see anyone outside.
Admittedly, the lockdown has now become very stressful to many; we can’t do much other than just being indoors and doing the same old things all the time.
I am starting to feel very depressed and many other people are feeling the same way too.
My family back home in Zimbabwe is understandably worried about me; about my safety but I let them know that they shouldn’t worry that much because I am always staying indoors which is the safest way of prevention.
I communicate with my family back home everyday so that I keep them updated about the situation here.
The university which I am at is also offering us some free face masks, hand wash soaps and gloves.
The current routine is that when you want to go outside maybe to the shops you have to be wearing the face mask all the time.
If you leave the university, your temperature is checked and when you return they will check your body temperature again so as to make sure that you are not infected.
We are also given some thermometers to enable us to frequently check our body temperatures.
Luckily, we are currently on holiday which is supposed to end by the end of this month so right now we are not having any lectures but it seems like the lockdown could stretch to May which might cause a delay of the opening of the schools.
At my university there are around 15 Zimbabweans and there are over 300 Zimbabweans in Wuhan.
As Zimbabweans we have created a fund just in case one of us gets infected.
We have to be in a position to help each other as compatriots. As Zimbabweans we are giving encouragement to one another.
I also do interact with other people from Zimbabwe as much as I can but it’s usually online as it is currently not easy to move around. You can’t even get a taxi ride.
Since the lockdown life hasn’t been the same, there is not much freedom of movement.
Hopefully the situation will return to normal soon.
Locals here are very scared of the virus because they are the ones who have been affected the most by the coronavirus outbreak.
Very few foreigners have been infected. Whenever I go out to try and look for some food supplies, when I meet some local people along the road they walk far from me.
Most locals mostly don’t go outdoors; they are always indoors and talking through windows with their neighbours.
(Dube is a Zimbabwean student at Wuhan University of Technology)