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Letter from... China


As of 20 March 2020, according to the government there are 6,764 existing confirmed cases in China and no new infections of the coronavirus have been reported domestically for two days. Out of 34 provinces in China, 14 now report that they have cleared their remaining cases. As the situation in China seems like it is being brought under control, life is slowly returning to a degree of normality. Below are some updates from local friends in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Zhuzhou which give an idea of the situation in China.

Daily life returning to normal

Chinese people have spent the past two months at home as the central government imposed unprecedented nationwide quarantine measures. Now, with many provinces having downgraded their emergency response levels, China is slowly - and cautiously - returning to the way things were.

Draconian measures such as access control taken in communities have been relaxed, but prevention and control measures like temperature-taking and mask-wearing are still mandatory. Most supermarkets, shops and restaurants have been reopened, except entertainment venues like cinemas, karaoke, bars and internet cafes. Before entering any public area or taking transportation, everyone is still required to take the basic prevention and control measures which are now becoming widespread around the world.

Work resuming with regulation

During the last month, almost all companies shut down their offices while employees were asked to work from home. Now, local governments have allowed companies to resume work under the regulations of prevention and control as Chinese cities work to get back on track.

To minimize the risk of infection, most companies strictly require employees to wear masks, regularly wash hands with alcohol sanitizer and take their temperature in the workplace. Staff at some firms have been given forms about travel history to fill in. Job rotation, online communications and video conferences have also become integral to day to day operations in order to reduce close contact between people.

Classes at schools and universities will resume according to the dates proposed by different provinces, with most schools expected to return by late March or early April.

Tightened entry control to China

Although the novel coronavirus outbreak has almost been contained, China has shifted to make prevention and control of imported cases a priority in light of the influx of overseas Chinese. As such, many cities require everyone coming abroad to be centrally quarantined or self-quarantined for 14 days. For example, a friend working for the China Southern Airlines needs to stay home for two weeks after a trip from Melbourne where a number of cases have been reported.

There is cautious optimism in the air, but a sense that a lot of work needs to be done, and we cannot relax our vigilance yet. 


Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash