|The Daily Mail, Pakistan|
|COVID-19 pandemic is everyone’s fight|
When I went to my wife's hometown in the southwestern part of Hubei Province in late January for the Spring Festival family reunion, I had never imagined I would have to remain there for two and a half months. At that time there was some news about a viral infection outbreak in Wuhan, the capital of the province, but we, like everyone else, were fully in the New Year celebration mood, visiting relatives and local holiday resorts, and thought the virus was no big deal.
I began to take the novel coronavirus disease seriously only after respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan came to Wuhan to investigate the outbreak and confirmed the ability of the new coronavirus to transmit between humans. Then Hubei was put under lockdown and as control measures escalated, we were confined to our homes. For around two months, the farthest we could go was the gate of our residential complex, where we collected our essential supplies.
Every morning we were awakened by police cars patrolling the streets and playing recorded warnings and instructions. They even modified popular songs in attempt to make the information and instructions catchy. Filling various forms and questionnaires became another daily routine.
However, these were the least of our sorrows. The grief came when my grandmother, who lived in another part of the province, became critically ill all of a sudden. Though not very far away, we still couldn't go to her as transportation had been suspended within the province. We managed to see her via a video call. That was the last time we saw her. She passed away a week later.
But we kept our grief under control, knowing that everyone was strictly following epidemic control requirements. At a critical time like this, unified efforts across the country were key to a quick and thorough victory against the epidemic. Besides, compared to those risking their lives working to keep us safe, we didn't really have much to complain about.
I got to know better how they worked after I joined them as a volunteer when my neighborhood called on everyone available to join the fight. My post was in a temporary camp set up at the gate of the community, and my job was registering all those entering and leaving and taking their temperature.
The people I worked with were mostly the local government officials living in the community. They said about 90 percent of their colleagues were engaged in epidemic prevention and control work. Although the situation in our county was much better than in some other places in Hubei, they stayed cautious.
In the 100-meter street outside our complex, posts had been set up at both ends to check every vehicle and person passing by. These check points operated around the clock, with beds inside the little tents for the people manning them to take a much-needed break.
While local doctors and reinforcements from all over China were saving lives in hospitals, these efforts at the community level played a key role in identifying potential patients and preventing the spread of the disease, easing the pressure on the overloaded hospitals.
People staying at home made their contribution, too. Despite all the difficulties, they remained strong and optimistic.
My friend Luo Sha in Wuhan was planning to keep her flower workshop running through the profitable Spring Festival holiday when the outbreak occurred. Her business was closed and she had to stay at home. This meant she had no income but might still have to pay rent for her workshop. Yet she remained enterprising, developing an interest in cooking and sharing images of the dishes she cooked online.
The last time I checked, she had started a business selling the desserts she made in the community. I think that is the spirit that made President Xi Jinping call Wuhan "a city of heroes."
I have since returned to Beijing, and after the 14 days of quarantine required for people returning to Beijing from outside, I will finally be free to go out. But I know we are still far from going back to our normal life since China is so closely connected to the rest of the world, where more and more countries are facing what we have been through.
The outside world helped us when we were at our most difficult times, and China is doing its best to reciprocate. It is time for close cooperation, not finger-pointing. I believe if we work together, we can defeat the disease and save more lives. We have seen this from the successful control of the disease in China achieved by the nationwide efforts.
The author is a reporter with the ChinAfrica magazine