I am writing this blog post for two chief reasons:
- I have A LOT of time on my hands. Read on to understand why. This is more to keep my sanity than for your reading purposes 🙂
- I feel that the world outside China should have an example of an on-the-ground couple and their experiences – challenges and victories. The media is known for painting pictures of global events – whether true or not. By reading these subsequent posts, I hope you will have more information to make a personalized/educated opinion about the current coronavirus situation and how it affects us living in Qingdao, China.
Upon buying our tickets from Auckland-to-Shanghai-to-Qingdao, we were most anxious about a horror story a fellow ex-pat shared with us – a Seoul-Qingdao flight had arrived and all its passengers were quarantined under government supervision in a nearby hotel. This is the NOT the outcome we wanted (we wanted to be *home* in our Q-city apartment). We flew anxiously hoping that this would not be our fate.
We arrived to a deserted Shanghai airport early Saturday morning. Prior to departing the plane, the overhead requested that everyone take their seats for the medical officer to board. I have never seen people sit down so quickly. A couple of Chinese girls were screened by the fullbody-hazmat women, but nothing further.
In the Shanghai airport, everyone was wearing a mask/goggles/face shield/all three and kept distance from each other. In the Shanghai airport, I joked with Laura via Skype: “Wow! A much-needed behavior change experienced in Shanghai – people are actually giving each other the bubble they need!” Despite our full-knowledge that medical masks do little to prevent a viral infection (they aren’t a tight seal, duh. If you are breathing, particles are getting in the sides), we wore them to avert strange looks. Here are some Shanghai airport pics:
We arrived back to TAO/Qingdao; to the part of the journey we were most anxious about. We walked RIGHT by the international arrivals gate (consciously keeping our heads down); where medical officers were wearing full hazmat suits, carefully screening arrivals, and loading buses going…somewhere. We walked downstairs and took a taxi back to our apartment. At this point, we let out a deep breath. We had avoided the worst-possible scenario.
In our apartment complex, our temperatures were taken and we wrote on names on the sign-on sign-out sheet. We thought we were clear, until…we were told we needed to do a 14-day mandatory quarantine in our apartments. We spoke with the property manager extensively explaining that we had been to a “safe zone” in NZ and Shanghai, not Wuhan/Hubei province. She got someone on the phone and sent us on our way to the elevators, but messaged us within 5 minutes – we were to do a 14-day mandatory quarantine in our homes.
Panic/depression/sadness set in quickly, and we took a few minutes to process what was happening. We came to grips with the situation in different ways, but both agreed to do the quarantine and get it “over with” – we couldn’t avoid the unavoidable.
We began frantically messaging HR at our school – How do we get water? Groceries? We actually can’t leave for two weeks? What about other things that we need? Are people allowed to visit us? Temperature readings; what’s this about? Between HR and the property manager in our building, everything got sorted. Now, it’s just us and filling our time for 14 days.
The following will be the chronicle of how we have maintained sanity and filled our time in these 14 days. We are children in this apartment building; 100% dependent on the property manager to deliver items from the lobby downstairs up to us.
DAY 1 QUARANTINE – a small but necessary victory