A diary from the first days of the COVID-19 outbreak

By Xiaojing Gan, Manager, Conservation – Wetlands

January 25, 2020: The first day of Lunar New Year:

Delphine likes her mask since it happened to match her hair decorations and new shoes.

Shenzhen is a city of migrants, and it becomes an empty city during Lunar New Year. The omnipresent updates of the COVID-19 outbreak have made the whole family feel heavy, so we decided to take a walk along the river near our home, following the tradition of “Meet the luck in the first day of the year初一行大运”. As expected, we didn’t see many people on the street, but everyone still wore a mask cautiously.

January 26, 2020: The second day of Lunar New Year:

The price of a small pack of vegetables was 100 Hong Kong dollars.

We were going back to Hong Kong for the annual reunion dinner with my husband’s family. Facemasks in Shenzhen had been sold out and we planned to restock in Hong Kong. However, the situation in Hong Kong was even worse: not only were facemasks unavailable but so were all disinfectant products. The price of fresh food also increased dramatically. There were only 20 masks left at home, for the six of us—it was unforeseeable how long those masks could last and how long we might need them. The only thing we could do was to stay at home and cancel the reunion dinner.

The queue to buy surgical face masks in Hong Kong.

January 28, 2020: Halfway through the holiday:

We got the big news that the Lunar New Year holiday would be extended to 10 days. However, there was some work that could not be postponed. Most of China is working from home, but it is not easy. As adults are stuck at home working—energetic kids are in the house with us, so the only time we could concentrate on our work was after midnight, when Delphine finally fell asleep.

Delphine started to use the “working-at-home” mom as her gym equipment, so we decided to let this two-year-old release her energy on the treadmill.

In all irony, the only one who is really enjoying this holiday is my two-year-old daughter Delphine. When my husband Jimmy and I played Legos with Delphine, my mother-in-law said: “It seems that Delphine should be grateful for this outbreak that forced Dad and Mom to stay with her at home.”

My arrival record ticket at Beijing airport.

February 2, 2020: The last day of the holiday:

On the night of February 2, I flew back to Beijing to work alone. Many flights had been cancelled, and my flight was less than a third full. During the eight-hour journey, I didn’t take the mask off, and I didn’t eat anything.

My anti-epidemic materials

February 4, 2020: Not the last day:

When I left Hong Kong, my mother-in-law gave me the best masks in the house. After arriving in Beijing, I received more masks from my best friend and PI colleagues. I am now the “safest” person in the whole family. Thanks to my family, friends, and colleagues for keeping me safe and making me feel loved!

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