A message from Wuhan people to the world
Stay united, stay indoors, and be hopeful: best experience to the world
Published: Apr 10, 2020 11:08 PM Updated: Apr 11, 2020 08:24 PM

Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Reflecting on the past two months, people in Wuhan, whose lives have been upended by a 76-day city lockdown to contain the coronavirus, believe simple words are far from enough to express their mixed feelings about the virus, for their beloved ones, for strangers who offered help during the darkest moments, and for the city which just stepped cautiously into its altered future after the lockdown was lifted on Wednesday.

For the Wuhan people, the scars of the coronavirus will remain in their hearts forever: some witnessed death of their closest family members; some suffered psychological trauma after seeing their beloved city's suffering; some cynics came to believe in the bright side as they were warmed by strangers' kindness… and now, they want to share their pain, their hope and their strength with people still struggling against the virus in other parts of the world. 

Liu Bo, a Wuhan local, issued an SOS notice on China's Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo in early February when his 78-year-old mother, with an underlying heart condition, was diagnosed with COVID-19 but was denied a bed because Wuhan hospitals were strained.

"I felt like the whole world owed me and deserted our family; I gnashed my teeth whenever I thought of the hospital receptionists' cold voice telling me there's nothing they could do, ignoring my constant begging. I saw the darkest side of the world then," said Liu, who posted the message online out of desperation. 

But the message worked. Liu's mother was admitted into a hospital five days after he raised a public alarm. "After I posted the message, I got hundreds of calls every day from all over China asking about my situation, and many journalists also called."

Liu said he was a person who does not like asking for help from others. But this time, he was touched. "After all, there are more good people than bad ones."

Liu's mother was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday, the same day as the lifting of the lockdown, a milestone marking the city's hard-fought virus battle. But Liu cannot stay with his newly recovered mother for long.

"My company went bankrupt during the epidemic and left me jobless. I am going to Shanghai tomorrow to find my cousin, hoping he would help me get a job there."

An owner of a clothing store in Wuhan, coronavirus' hardest-hit city, livestreams sales on Friday. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Bitterness and sweetness 

Someone left, but others chose to stay.

Long Xu, a Tibetan from Southwest China's Sichuan Province, was stranded in Wuhan since January when he came to visit a relative. 

On January 24, the day after Wuhan imposed lockdown, Long rode for four hours on a motorcycle and volunteered in Huoshenshan, the emergency field hospital for treating COVID-19 patients. He slept only two hours a day to help the construction, and took care of patients. 

"How come I am not scared? I was scared to death when I saw someone suddenly fall in front of me and pass out. My family also persuaded me not to go there. I used one thing to reason with them."

Long was determined to help Wuhan people because he saw many volunteers flock into his hometown Sichuan to help when a devastating earthquake hit the province in 2008 and claimed 70,000 lives. 

"Their good deeds in my hometown are in my heart forever," said Long, who has decided to stay in Wuhan even after the lockdown was lifted. Now, he works as a community volunteer helping send food and supplies for a nursing home.

"I promised to stay with Wuhan after the pandemic recedes here. I am a man, and should stand by my word." 

If Westerners don't obey quarantine rules and stay indoors, the pandemic won't recede in their countries even if they have many more doctors, Long said.

Many contributed to Wuhan's phased victory who obeyed the rules and locked themselves in, which helped stem the invisible tide. But for Wuhan people, frontline doctors are their real heroes.

"My legs began to shake after I checked 20 examination results of coronavirus patients," said an official from Wuhan's Wuchang district health commission. She said she tried to hide her fear as this would shake the already fragile confidence of other medical workers. 

She went to work with frontline doctors in the fever clinic of Wuhan's No. 7 hospital. "Our protective materials and drugs are gradually going low, as the number of confirmed patients of COVID-19 surges day by day… But we have no choice."

The official said she saw the first light at the end of the tunnel upon the arrival of the first patch of oxygenators, which helped patients with extremely low blood oxygen saturation to breathe. 

"She smiled at me when she breathed smoothly. And the smile is like sunshine that pierced the long-lingered haze in my heart."

When all Wuhan people were urged to stay in to avoid further contagion, Zhang Zheyan went out more often than ever.

Zhang, a manager of a Wuchang district market, which was ordered closed after the epidemic broke out in late January, shouldered the responsibility of delivering food for more than 500 households during the lockdown.

"I only slept two hours every day as I have to collect vegetables from the surrounding villages and send them to those families one by one who cannot go out," said Zhang. When the task became too heavy for Zhang to endure, he encouraged his son and daughter to help.

"Who isn't afraid of the virus? But someone has to solve the difficulties of the pandemic. If everyone thinks only of themselves, everyone just stays home and does nothing, we won't be killed by the virus; we will starve first."

Thursday is the second day since Wuhan lifted its 76-day lockdown. Office buildings and markets are preparing to reopen while public transport has become busier. Everything in Wuhan is reviving. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Sympathizing with others

Wuhan people are now celebrating their hard-won victory, and are also sympathizing with other parts of the world, which are under fire because of the virus.

Their experience? Stay united, stay indoors and believe that everything will eventually be better. 

"What I want to say to the world is be careful and protect yourselves, and always cherish hope," a young woman surnamed Huang, who has been staying indoors for over two months under strict quarantine, told the Global Times. 

We all live in the same world. Don't take any chances, she said. "You should get serious and protect yourself and your family from this pandemic. From the early stage of the outbreak to the containment of the virus, Wuhan has accumulated difficult but valuable experience," she said, noting that Wuhan people are willing to share this experience to any place in the world to help others get through this moment.

Wang Lushan, head of a residential community office in Wuhan, said that it is the mutual trust of the Chinese government and its people that made the current phased victory of Wuhan.

"People complained on the surface, but once the quarantine notices were issued, they obeyed, because deep in their hearts they believe it was the best option and trust the government," Wang said.

She also said people in the community worked together like a big family, as they helped their neighbors and even competed with other communities to try to reduce the number of suspected and confirmed cases of coronavirus.

A 32-year-old nurse surnamed Wei who has been working at the frontline and spent some weeks at a makeshift hospital in Wuhan said "We've been living in a peaceful era for so long, and the individual's and government's capabilities of handling stress and trauma need to be enhanced, she said. "We still have a long way to go to improve social governance. Hope everyone could make efforts."

"We also wish for world peace, hope that the global society could minimize secondary disasters from this outbreak," she said.