For the past week, I have been in a voluntary lockdown in Beijing because of the rapid spread of the coronavirus in China. A trip to the supermarket to stock up on supplies felt like being in a post zombie apocalyptic breakout, not waiting for the infected to attack you but actively making a run when someone coughed or sneezed. Relying on homemade noodles, I am looking forward to flying out of Beijing soon with no knowledge on when I will be back as many universities in Beijing have requested students not to return until further notice.
As seen in China’s 2002 SARS pandemic that infected more than 5,300 people and killed 349 nationwide, the government has yet again relied on putting almost 50 million people in quarantine to contain the crisis. According to news from the BBC, as on January 26th, the number of people killed in China has risen to 81 with almost 3,000 confirmed ill.
Embassies continue to work for the wellbeing of their citizens, and neighbouring countries such as Mongolia and North Korea are reported to have closed down borders with China. Acknowledging the uniqueness and severity of the situation as people were traveling for Lunar New Year, the Chinese government has extended the Lunar New Year holidays and both public and private sectors are adding buffer time periods before things start moving business as usual.