Friday, February 07, 2020

Coronavirus in Xi'an update

I have now completed my first week of giving assignments to students via an online tool. Both students and teachers are now scattered around the world. Many have recently returned to their home countries or have gone to nearby countries such as Thailand or Japan. Some are stranded in the country they vacationed in, due to travel restrictions.  Others have decided to try (at least for the time being) to stick it out in Xi'an. I intend to remain in Wisconsin until school is reopened, travel restrictions lifted, and the situation is stable.
The Xi'an airport
Those recently flying out of Xi'an encountered a virtually deserted terminal. Mask-wearing was mandatory, both at the airport and in the airplanes. All passengers are screened. People white wearing hazmat suits were present at the airport.

Bags of veggies to be delivered
For those living in apartment complexes that have had a person who tested positive for the coronavirus, they are put on lockdown. So far, 54 buildings or complexes are under such restrictions. (Considering that my complex currently has 18 high-rise buildings with around 34 floors, that's a lot of people!) No one is able to leave at all. (In other complexes, one person from the unit can leave every 2 or 3 days IF they don't have a fever).  Temperature and other monitoring are done upon exit and entry. For those in lockdown, vegetables are delivered to them. Imagine opening up the door and seeing your delivery person wearing a hazmat suit!
Taking no chances when delivering
According to the "official" numbers, there currently are 31,213 infections in China. Of those, 184 are in the Shaanxi province and 80 in Xi'an.
Current restrictions in the area:

  • Those returning will immediately be quarantined for 14 days at a designated hotel. They may not first go to their apartment.
  • Once they are able to return to their apartment, they must register with their apartment's management and follow all guidelines.
  • No long-distance bus services.
  • Over 106 local bus routes are suspended.
  • Subways are still operating under limited hours and only some entrances. Registration is required.
  • Several train lines are suspended.
  • No Didi (China's equivalent of Uber) services.
  • Wear masks when taking taxis, any public transportation, and in most any public place
  • Taxi drivers must disinfect their vehicles at least 2x a day.
  • Carry your ID/passport when taking public transport, in case they ask you to register your information
  • Several shopping malls and hotels are closed.
  • Supermarkets may be open but under limited hours. Some larger chains will have price-stabilized veggies and meat to prevent price-gouging.
  • No large gatherings or events are permitted.
  • Schools will remain closed at the direction of the Ministry of Education, and will likely remain closed until at least March 2. 
*Photos courtesy of my colleague, Jenna Dolman