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Feb. 13, Maintenance (A Canadian's Diary Inside Chongqing During the COVID-19 Home Quarantine)


Thursday, Feb 13

Today is day 20 of quarantine. Xiaolin is feeling much better. We’ve been getting good sleep, which doctors say is the key to beating this kind of virus and could mean the difference between a mild case at home and a severe case in the ICU.

Many people are back to work here in Chongqing, with an attitude of optimism. Many of us are still on lockdown too.

We tidy up, air out the blankets in the sun, and eat well today.

A change in testing criteria to use CT scans and other diagnostics means 15,000 new infections are on the board today. It feels like a lot, and now there’s 219 infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. They must be so stressed. At least those of us quarantining at home have our comforts.

My coworker, an American teacher who’s holed up across the country, needs help to get his lesson plans off his laptop. Our school office has a set of keys for his flat, and he talks me into doing a little B&E (with permission). Xiaolin wants me to stay home, I get suited up and walk over to the school gate.


Kai is locked out of school until the opening date.

Kai is locked out of school until the opening date.

The guard comes out and waves me away. I call Xiaolin to help get more information, but before I can back away, the guard grabs my phone. The school has been decontaminated, and no one goes in. That’s it, rules are rules. I return home, remove my phone case, and leave it by the door, spray everything down, shower and change my clothes.

Today we see a lot of videos of police arresting citizens who create panic and spread rumors. During any crisis, some people will take advantage of the chaos for their own profit. Still, it makes me more reluctant to do what I came here for, use my expertise, critical thinking, and voice as a teacher and a writer to be an agent for good.

Better to focus on our small world and leave the big questions to the experts. We play another WeChat concert for babies, and I start reading the new William Gibson book Agency, and Laurie Garrett’s The Coming Plague. They’re both fascinating for different reasons, but it strikes me that I’m juggling a lot of balls. Maintenance is always the hardest part for me, but it’s where I’m working the hardest to develop.

A few more friends leave for Vancouver, and they’re lucky to get on one of the remaining flights out of Shanghai. I hope a trip to Canada this summer is possible. As we hope and pray, this thing is on the decline, the WHO and many other countries brace for more spread.

Most of the flights on the board today were cancelled.

Most of the flights on the board today were canceled.


A Tour in Chongqing, A Gain in Vision

A Land of Natural Beauty, A City with Cultural Appeal

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