The villages in the distance were dotted with stars and fireworks rose, blooming in the night sky on New Year’s Eve, still gorgeous. The Spring Festival Gala of the Year of the Rat has already begun, with songs and applause spilling joyfully from the TV screen.
On the evening of January 24, new year’s eve, in my hometown in Tianmen village of Hubei province, I brushed the constantly updated epidemic situation on my mobile phone and reported the latest information and protection methods of “new crown pneumonia” to my family.
Unexpectedly, the epidemic situation of Wuhan pneumonia will suddenly reverse in just two days, pushing us into a strange and terrible world. On New Year’s Eve, beautiful fireworks and a joyous Spring Festival gala cannot hide people’s panic and anxiety.
An unusual Spring Festival has just begun …
On January 19, December 25, my family and I set foot on the high-speed train from Beijing West Station to Wuhan Station. The night before my departure, I searched specially for the latest information on “Wuhan pneumonia”. The official announcement of “no human transmission” and “no new cases reported in Wuhan in the past week” made me not alert to travel.
On the train, the atmosphere was relaxed, peaceful and full of laughter.
The train slowly entered Wuhan Station. Everyone packed up their luggage and got ready to get off. I suddenly found that the three in the front row were wearing masks, or N95 masks! I was surprised when a man next to me looked at the family of three and said contemptuously, “This is too exaggerated!”
After a short stay in Wuhan, we drove back to our hometown of Tianmen 150 kilometers away.
The next day, on the 26th of the twelfth month of the lunar calendar, academician Zhong Nanshan led a high-level expert group of the national health and health Commission to hold a press conference and officially announced that the new crown pneumonia originated from Wuhan “has human-to-human transmission”. The news spread all over Hubei that night, reminding each other, “if you can’t go to Wuhan, you can’t go, Wuhan people can’t come out”.
On the morning of the 21st of December 27th, Tianmen held an emergency meeting to report the epidemic situation and deploy prevention and control work. Zhang Shu, the village secretary in his hometown, and his father, a village doctor, became nervous and busy. They looked solemn and seemed to have realized the complexity and difficulty of the “war epidemic”.
Wuhan’s newly crowned pneumonia has once again aroused nationwide concern. Relatives and friends preparing to return home for the New Year have begun to re-plan the route map for their return home in order to avoid Wuhan.
Brother-in-law came back from Hangzhou on the 22nd and was supposed to transfer at Wuhan Station to Tianmen South Station. In order to avoid staying in Wuhan, my nephew and I studied repeatedly on the evening of the 21st and decided to let him get off at Macheng Station, the previous station in Wuhan, in advance. We also re-booked the train ticket from Macheng to Qianjiang, the neighboring county.
That night, we received a brother-in-law at Qianjiang Station. The huge high-speed railway station looked very cold and cheerless, completely devoid of the flavor of the Spring Festival.
On the 23rd, December 29th, in the early morning, Wuhan announced that the city would be closed at 10 a.m. Early in the morning, many people began to flee this “dangerous” city in a hurry.
My cousin works in Beijing and returns to Wuhan from Beijing on the 19th. He is going to take his family to Wuhan for a few days and return to Tianmen on New Year’s Eve. After the exit from Han was closed, the cousin’s family had a hard time finding a rural road that could not be blocked, and detoured out of the city and returned to Tianmen.
On the 24th, the 30th of the year, at 1: 00 p.m., Tianmen closed the city. The government has ordered the closure of all traffic routes, including those connecting villages and even groups. Thinking about leaving Tianmen early on the 25th (the first day of the new year) and heading straight to Beijing’s cousin, he was finally sealed in his hometown’s village.
“It’s still a step too late!” My cousin sighed.
Lan Lan, a Qianjiang man working in Wuhan, dragged his heavy luggage around the waiting hall of Wuhan Railway Station for more than an hour on the evening of the 22nd. In order not to bring back hidden dangers to the elderly and children in his family, he finally gritted his teeth and decided to stay isolated in Wuhan. A person spent a long and anxious Spring Festival in the dormitory.
Rural prevention and control
On the afternoon of the 24th, on New Year’s Eve, the sky was drizzling with cold winds and unusually cold.
Zhang Shugang, the village party secretary, returned from a meeting in the town, put up posters on the prevention and control of the epidemic, pulled up publicity banners, and was busy visiting from door to door to inform him: Don’t go out, don’t visit, don’t gather.
“Life is more than everything, I will not be prepared for this year.” Zhang Shu said.
My father, who was not used to wearing a white coat at ordinary times, also put on a mask that day. While receiving the villagers in the village clinic, he took time to tabulate and register the information and health status of all the villagers in the village who came back from Wuhan or passed through Wuhan.
The horn in the village repeatedly broadcast the epidemic prevention and control notice. At first it was a more formal and official document, but later it simply changed into a plain dialect slogan: visiting is killing each other, and gathering is killing yourself.
Perhaps it was because of the rainy day. In the first few days of the city closure, the villagers were still well-behaved, hiding at home and not going out or visiting. In the third day of the first month, the fourth day of Tianmen’s city closure, the weather cleared up, the latest confirmed cases were announced, and there was no list of people from their hometown villages and towns. The villagers began to walk out of their homes in twos and threes on the village road, even chatting without wearing masks.
My father was very worried about this and kept persuading them to stay at home and pay attention to protection.
On the 28th, news suddenly came that one case had been confirmed in the town, and there were more rumors that the patient had passed away.
On that day, the village road suddenly became empty again. The people walking were gone, and there were no people gathered to chat.
However, in a few days, the villagers who always seemed unable to contain themselves began to walk out of their homes …
Being in an epidemic area, I am more worried about losing the fragile countryside. How to make people living in rural areas truly realize the severity of the epidemic and how to improve their awareness of protection have become the topic of many discussions between my father and me.
The village cadres and the cadres on duty stationed in the town are squatting at the checkpoints of the village road every day. The trumpet in the village still plays the slogan “don’t drop in today, have relatives tomorrow”.
Expected inflection point
On February 2, the ninth day of the first month, the State Council extended the last day of the Spring Festival holiday.
Lan Lan, who remained isolated in Wuhan, did not show any symptoms and took part in the company’s donation of materials to some medical institutions in Wuhan during the holidays. Cousin gave up the plan to return to Beijing in advance, believing that “doing a good job of isolation at home is the best cooperation for epidemic prevention and control work”.
On the morning of that day, a good friend in Beijing called to greet me in Hubei. He told me that it was snowing in Beijing and there was a vast expanse of whiteness. The Chaoyang North Road downstairs of his house used to be crowded, but now people are hard to find. “It feels very sad!” He said.
On the same day, the number of confirmed cases of newly diagnosed pneumonia reached a new high, reaching 2,590, of which 1,921 were in Hubei Province. However, the father who witnessed the SARS prevention and control work in that year firmly believed that the epidemic would usher in a turning point after the Lantern Festival.