In China bats or other strange animals are not usually eaten; there are many ordinary supermarkets and not only markets with live animals on the road.
The Chinese are building hospitals (the extra ones) not because there were none, but to solve the problem even faster. The Government does not hide the news, on the contrary. There is a lot of solidarity, both amongst Chinese and with the foreigners’ communities like us, that feel “at home” in China.
Only Wuhan and Hubei are “armored”, but in other Chinese cities and provinces it is possible to move around quite freely, although we are continually invite to limit travel to the absolute minimum. Supermarkets and pharmacies are still open, and it’s possible to buy food and other basic necessities. It’s a must to wear a mask when going out, and to be more careful than usual.
However, we are not afraid: we decided to stay here to fight together with our Chinese friends. This country and this people do not deserve what is happening to them.
The Government every day publishes an updated bulletin (in the original version that we read, directly in Chinese, are mentioned even the generalities of the sick people). There are even “APPs” to see where are located the closest cases. Moreover, for us foreigners in China, some hot-lines in English and other languages have been activated throughout the national territory to be called in case of need.
Although Italy has currently blocked direct flights to and from China, we, as Italians, are absolutely not held captive at all: if we want, we can return to our country making a stopover in other countries, however we believe that, at the moment, it is safer to stay in China than to travel.
In addition to that, our work and our life are now based in China, therefore we don’t want to abandon everything. Moreover, if we would decide to leave, we would not know for sure when we could return to China.
We would like to specify that only the Italians who were in Hubei have been repatriated by military plane, while in the other Chinese Provinces it is not the same thing, at least for the moment.
In general, we can say that the recoveries are increasing, infections are decreasing, and deaths remain fairly stable. In any case the lethality of the virus is not currently high. Most of the infections are in the Hubei province, which is still isolated: those who are in that area, regardless of whether they are local or in transit, cannot leave, and nobody can get in, except for people and goods sent for emergency reasons.
When transport to and from the Hubei province will be finally reactivated, those leaving will be put through quarantined, as local authorities say.
Our daily life
My partner Roberto Tava and I have an import-export and consultancy company in Changsha (about 7 million inhabitants), the capital of the Hunan Province, with about 70 million inhabitants. Hunan borders on Hubei, whose capital Wuhan is the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic, about 350 km from Changsha.
Lets list some numbers: up to date, around 23,000 people in Hunan have had contact with infected people, of which about 6,000 are under medical observation and about 16,000 have been discharged. There are, more or less, 900 confirmed cases and 2 deaths (1 in Yueyang and 1 in Shaoyang). In the city of Changsha the confirmed cases are around 200 with 0 deaths.
Our company, as many others in this area, reopened on February 10, albeit not yet at full speed. Many public and private offices are closed but people work online, both from the workplace and from home and fortunately China is a leader in the IT sector.
Schools won’t open until March 2, but in the meantime some of them have activated online courses. These measures should not be misunderstood, in the sense that they are mainly aimed at preventing further infections.
To the Businesses that have never closed, even during the Chinese New Year (like supermarkets), to hose like us who have already reopened or are about to reopen has been asked to get masks, disposable gloves, disinfectants, and thermometers.
We have also been asked to maintain a safe distance from people arriving from elsewhere, to measure their body temperature and record the data on a special register, and finally to avoid large groupings of people, for example by taking a lunch break in turns instead of all together.
The restaurants in our area are not yet open to the public but those who have the Government approval, can provide take-away food through home delivery.
Data on infections
The global data on contagions and deaths should not only be read, but also interpreted. For example, the recent contagions include also people who may have previously been infected but that didn’t manifest the disease, since the incubation may last up to 2-3 weeks.
People who have died of coronavirus are mainly the elderly and/or patients with previous diseases. After all, experts are demonstrating that this virus is, anyway, a new form of unknown flu. Therefore, as any other flu, is easily contagious but, while waiting for a vaccine, with the necessary precautions, it can be easily avoided.
The great work of Chinese doctors and nurses
It’s very important to specify that the first people who died were doctors and nurses engaged in the front line to save other people’s lives. For many of them, the exhaustion due to very long shifts (often due to their ethical choice) on the field, has affected them a lot.
A couple of days ago we saw on a Chinese channel (CGTN), in English, a very touching service on the work of the medical and health staff in Wuhan: doctors and nurses work tirelessly wearing anti-contagion masks and suits that cause itching and irritation on the skin of the face and body.
To avoid wasting masks and suits, that are very expensive, they don’t even go to the bathroom for 6 hours in a row (otherwise they should throw them away and wear new ones). They actually work wearing diapers, and to minimize the problem they avoid drinking liquids 1 or 2 hours before the start of their turn.
It is really emotional to see that, despite being physically and mentally exhausted, they do not lose strength nor hope and stay positive.
After their shift, many resort to induced oxygenation to revitalize themselves.
Italian associations and Italian entrepreneurs in China try to support this country morally, through donations of money or protective sanitary material necessary mostly for prevention.
The Italian institutions in China (Embassy and Consulates) provide daily updates to all of us Italians in China, both by e-mail and through the institutional APPs, and are always available in case of emergencies.
Instead, the feeling that we have in China, referring to the decisions of the Italian government in Rome, is that with the blocking of all flights, serious inconveniences and frictions will be created between the two countries. It’s appalling to hear news from Italy and other countries that speak of racism and violence against the Chinese abroad.
These uncivil behaviors dictated by ignorance are extremely serious, senseless, useless and seriously damage not only the Chinese victims of these abuses but also the countries where this is happening: it is going to be a boomerang.
In China, even the ordinary people are aware about the above decisions and the episodes of marginalization (news travels…). They are reacting accordingly by showing their disapproval on Chinese social networks, sometimes with very heavy words towards Italy. Being Italians who live in China, this situation worries us a lot … almost more than the coronavirus.
The consequences in the short and medium term are already visible, but there will also more in the long term.
We ask every person that reads this article to please spread it: these are real, first-hand news from Italians who are experiencing the problem in China directly and in first person. China has diplomatic, commercial and cultural exchange relations with many other countries both in Asia and in the West.
This forced stop, due to the coronavirus outbreak, is causing considerable damage not only to people but also to the economy of both China and the countries involved directly or indirectly: with regards to the movement of goods and people, are going to be compromised now and in the future study trips, visits of Chinese and foreign delegations, tourism, transfers, international transport, and so on.
We ask each one of you to please make our voices heard and also the one of China: a peaceful nation, with millenary history and culture that, unfortunately, Italy and most of the Western World still don’t know quite enough.
On this occasion, we would like remind that this year there is the 50th anniversary of relations between Italy and China: please, root for the Chinese and also for us Italians in China!