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Lockdown life in China

An insight into quarantine in China with our National Representative Beirong (Bei) Xiong and her husband David Shanks.

In total Bei and David spent 39 days in quarantine in Shanghai and then another 14 days when they arrived in Beijing. A total of 53 days. What would have been daunting for most people became an adventure for them both. Their Day 21 message to family and friends gives a glimpse of lockdown life.

Thank you for all your updates from home. Yep, any amount of no news is good news these days - if that makes any sense Lol. We had hoped to leave Shanghai for Beijing today (our 21st day of isolation). Alas it is not to be. Instead, we have ringside seats at an historic moment here in Shanghai…the testing of every man, woman and presumably child over a certain age in a single day.

A knock on our door early this morning summoned us to join other neighbours out front of the hotel for Covid testing. We took the stairs as a precaution. When it was our turn, the nurse mixed our two swabs into a single ‘family’ sample, so now we really are in this together! It’s a warm and sunny day for this and spirits are high - likened to a military campaign to meet a collective target: identify and isolate those testing positive in facilities designed to hold up to 100,000 patients. Have to admit I am happy to be here witnessing this massive effort first hand. As a precaution we have packed separate bags of clothes, phones, meds and the like just in case both of us get sent out to the Expo facility separately for 2 weeks of Covid isolation. Thank goodness for Google Translate!

We have nailed every Covid test so far, leaving us optimistic that we will remain here in the hotel for a few more days until certainty over the number of asymptomatic and symptomatic Covid cases city-wide is finalized.

We had a good TRX workout back in the room. Down to our last yogurt, 1/2 apple, 4 oranges, 1 avocado, three tomato’s, some cereal, crackers, coffee (Yes!) and 4 slices of bread. Government issued veggies (carrots, potatoes, onions, cabbage) and meat/fish round out the stores. Food goes off quickly here for some reason, so Ms B is taking great care to keep provisions edible, hanging bags of food outside our bedroom window in what she calls ‘our natural fridge.’ She is an absolute master at this! Begs the time worn question: if you were stranded on a desert island who would you rather be with. Answer: Beirong. Hands down.

Today we’ll update our diary (sounds grander than it is), finish a downloaded series, do a laundry and play a Quebec board game called Tok which we fashioned into miniature for the trip.

We will know the Covid count sometime tonight. If our community has no cases, we will be able to go out, with limitations, as early as tomorrow or Wednesday. Beijing has indicated that visitors are welcome from Shanghai if it wins this battle (i.e., lowers the risk from medium-high to low). So, basically no idea yet when we will be in Beijing, nor how long our isolation there might be for. The Grand Tour this is not. However, as a restorative time out from the usual hectic pace of life it has definite value.

The long view wins out here and we have rediscovered a number of simple pleasures - like the exquisite taste of peanut butter on crackers, instant coffee, and homemade morning cereal (crushed multi grain crackers with milk) as an afternoon treat. Another reminder that some of the best experiences in life are served up while we are busy making plans. And hey, the Covid tests are free!

Thanks again for having our backs everyone.

We’ll keep you posted.

David and Bei

** Editor’s note: Sadly, Bei’s mother passed away while they were in quarantine. May she fly free of pain and rest in eternal love. xx