Isolated, But Not Desolate
Three Wuhan residents share with Ruth Chan their stories of solace, self-growth and selflessness in the face of epic changes brought on by Covid-19.
The bustling nightlife of Han Street, a popular shopping street in Wuhan, China, prior to the Covid-19 outbreak. Photo courtesy of Russell Lee Junwei.
July 7, 2020
The city of Wuhan, the original epicentre of Covid-19, lifted its 76-day lockdown on Apr 20, 2020. With more than 50,000 confirmed cases which claimed over 3,800 lives within its borders, the capital of China’s Hubei province has been severely ravaged by the pandemic.
Despite the death and destruction brought about by the virus, the residents remain resolutely positive.
Yuan Man, 22, a student from the Wuhan Institute of Technology, shared over the phone in Mandarin that it is important to “isolate the virus, not [the] love”. She added that this pandemic has united the community, demonstrating the power of love and warmth.
“This pandemic can also be seen from another angle. It has taught us that darkness is only temporary. No matter what, the sun will still rise the next day. Humankind will always be able to overcome all sorts of difficulties and setbacks,” Ms Yuan added.
In terms of self-growth, Ms Yuan has learnt that “life is very fragile”, and to “love and treasure her parents”. She has a greater respect for life, and the pandemic has made her reflect on what she really wants to accomplish and what role she can play in society.
“The frontline workers in Wuhan really inspire me… I want to do the best I can, even in the face of calamity,” she said.
She practised Chinese calligraphy every day in lockdown, an activity which brought her “immense joy”.
Yuan Man holding up a piece of Chinese calligraphy paper with the Chinese character wang for her class with Singaporean exchange students before the lockdown. Photo courtesy of Reagan Tan Jing Hng.
Tay Henry, 62, a Singaporean engineering consultant who has been living in Wuhan for 26 years, used his time during the lockdown to practise writing in Chinese again and “read, recite and memorise many Chinese classical poems”. Mr Tay had developed a love for the Chinese culture from a young age.
He added: “No amount of knowledge can prepare one to face new challenges.” He advised that the best thing one can do is to be equipped with basic skills like “reading, writing, understanding, listening, speaking and analysing”.
Even with the high number of fatalities reported daily, he was not afraid of this challenge. He knew that China had the proper means to contain the virus, and gave his full support to the Chinese government when they announced complete lockdown on Jan 23, 2020.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) called the lockdown of 11 million people “unprecedented in public health history”.
Mr Tay added: “When Covid-19 struck Wuhan, many Singaporeans were rushing
back to Singapore. I simply told my wife that I will stay. Wuhan will win this battle and come out stronger than before!”
When Covid-19 struck Wuhan, many Singaporeans were rushing back to Singapore. I simply told my wife that I will stay. Wuhan will win this battle and come out stronger than before!
He saw youths rise to the occasion and volunteer their time to help those in need and said that they deserved “full respect and honour”. To him, they are heroes who “are brave and willing to serve others before self”.
Mr Yang Si Yong, 40, a convenience store owner, adopted a selfless mindset to the situation as well.
He never imagined that a festival as culturally significant to the Chinese as the Lunar New Year would be restricted only to one’s home, but he believed that it was the right decision.
He emphasised that it was completely worth it to sacrifice a little personal freedom to save countless lives, adding that “temporary restrictions can bring about long-term public health and stability”.
Mr Yang and his 8-year-old daughter at East Lake, Wuhan, after the lockdown was lifted.
Photo courtesy of Yang Si Yong.
Mr Yang added: “In Chinese culture, every time we face a disaster, we put society’s interests higher than our personal interests. This is the fundamental reason why China can control the spread of the virus.”
“I think another reason why we can stay in isolation for more than 70 days is because we see hope that the government can lead us to defeat the virus, and we give them our full support,” he elaborated.
I think another reason why we can stay in isolation for more than 70 days is because we see hope that the government can lead us to defeat the virus, and we give them our full support.
As of Jul 5, 2020, there are a total of 83,599 confirmed cases and 4,634 deaths in China.