Diary of a Shanghai young woman reveals the city’s true grit in fighting pandemic
Published: Apr 21, 2022 05:49 PM
The inside of the Lianlianglu makeshift hospital in Shanghai Photo:Courtesy of Donnie

The inside of the Lianlianglu makeshift hospital in Shanghai Photo:Courtesy of Donnie

"I help them pick up deliveries, install WIFI, and also take pictures and videos of them," Donnie, a young woman whose entire family is under quarantine at a makeshift hospital in Shanghai after testing positive for the Omicron variant of COVID-19, told the Global Times. 

Eyes always smiling, the young woman just a bit little over 20 years old became a volunteer at the Lianlianglu makeshift hospital in Shanghai's Putuo district on Monday. 

Yet she was hardly this light-hearted 10 days ago when her four-member family first started to come down with Omicron symptoms. So the young woman decided to create an diary to document her and the city's changes as it transits from hopelessness to hopeful. 

It was on April 8 when the "two stripes" antigen test results for Donnie's grandmother alerted the family about a possible Omicron positive situation. Along with that was the old lady started to have a low fever of 38.7 C, and Donnie's grandfather and mother began to feel nauseous as they came down with fevers of their own.  

"We were all shocked and refused to accept what we were experiencing. My granny still wanted to cook," Donnie wrote in her diary. 

"Self-isolating at home! No one can accept that this has happened." 

Donnie, the youngest woman in the family, told the Global Times that she remained calm and acted as family's backbone as the situation grew worse. When her mother's temperature went too high, she decided to report the situation immediately to the local community and told the family to no longer go downstairs to take the routine nucleic acid tests with their neighbors in order to prevent the spread of the infection. 

The mere consolation mentioned was that they were still getting food deliveries from Shandong Province - potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and chicken breasts for a family of four. 

It would be cruel to say Donnie was the luckiest member of her family, as she still experienced major symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, sore throat despite being the only one to have negative results when the Disease Control and Prevention Center of Putuo district informed the family on April 11 that the three other members had tested positive. 

Faced with having to move into a makeshift hospital, which came with worries about the conditions there, and whether they had enough medicine for her grandparents' medical conditions, paying the mortgage and other emotional obstacles, the tough woman finally collapsed. 

Donnie said that after she wrote about the results in her diary, her grandmother suffered from insomnia and worried that her friends would no longer want to talk to her because having Omicron was "shameful." Meanwhile, her mother, who runs a small shop in the city, worried that customers would avoid her business due to her history.

"This is not a bad thing," Donnie assured her granny, noting all the positive comments that people had sent to the family after the reveal. 

"Look, you've received love and care from around the world." 

It was then that the old woman revealed to Donnie that she had joined a party with a group of friends back when restrictions were not strict. As it turned out, everyone at the party later tested positive for Omicron. 

On April 13, the family was transferred to the Lianlianglu makeshift hospital.

Donnie told the Global Times that conditions were much better than she had imagined. 

"It is luxurious," she said. 

The makeshift hospital is gender-separated with nine patients sharing one room. People can leave after two consecutive negative tests.   

Donnie told the Global Times that the previous 10 days had left her depressed, but now she feels alive again. She sees herself as only a tiny example of many other people in the city who have learned to cope with setbacks with grit and determination. 

Renya, a woman in Shanghai, is one of those.

"I suffer depression, so I had been continually crying and feeling paranoid while staying at home every day. But, this changed when one day I heard my friend talk about her results in such a calm and positive way. I should not let my emotions beat me before I even get the chance to fight Omicron," she told the Global Times. 

A week after Donnie moved into the makeshift hospital, she asked to be a volunteer to help out with daily chores. The young woman, who wants to be a filmmaker someday, revealed to the Global Times that there are students who started to attend online classes in the hospital, and there is even a hairdressing room for patients to keep up their appearances. 

"Patients from all different backgrounds have come together to help each other," said Donnie.

Renya, who was once overwhelmed by the Omicron situation, is now overseeing purchases of food and resources for her building. The new role has brought her a newfound sense of pride.