The Corona Diaries - February 11th

The Corona Diaries - Something Overlooked

A few days ago I remember reading an article about how the Wuhan Coronavirus was affecting Thailand and how many Thai nationals were complaining about foreigners not taking proper precautions, in particular not wearing masks. I’ve been looking for that article today (can’t find it now) because I remember being struck by something else, the fact that Thailand was still allowing passengers to arrive from China. If you already see where this is going as it pertains to me, then you’re a bit quicker than I am. 

Yesterday, during a conversation with my friend Sabya, he reminded me that there was a direct flight from Bangkok to Nanning. Nanning is easily within driving distance of Liuzhou. If China Southern was still flying from Bangkok to Nanning, that would almost certainly solve the issue of getting home. When he checked,  the flights were still scheduled a few days each week, the earliest being the 12th. Yes, I was able to get a flight to Bangkok from Calcutta and after a 7 hour layover there, I’m now scheduled to fly to Nanning. It’s China and there is an epidemic so anything could happen between now and then but as of right now, at 7:11 PM Calcutta time on the 11th of February, I’m on that flight. A few people have been very kind and helpful finding alternative routes for me to get back into China. There are still a number of flights from Asia into Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou but I’d still have to get to Liuzhou from those places and those routes, air and rail, are greatly reduced on the mainland right now. Nanning is easy for me, requiring a few hours alone in my car with my wife.

It’s still uncertain what will happen once I land in China. Theoretically I should be allowed in without much of an issue. I have a current legal residence permit and I’ve already been out of the country for 21 days, well past the incubation period. I’ve not had a fever nor shown any other symptoms of infection. I might be required to self-quarantine for two weeks, but I can do that easily enough. I’d almost certainly do it anyway. As I mentioned yesterday, Lily and Jia have been isolating themselves for three weeks already.

There are shortages in Liuzhou. Bottled water was almost all gone the last time Lily went to the grocery. Face masks have been in short supply for weeks, hand sanitizer as well.  Food prices are rising and vegetables were older than usual when she was last there, but most everything else was about normal. I’ll know more and have a better understanding of everything, if and when I get home. The local car company SGMW, which is a joint venture between SAIC Motor Corporation, Liuzhou Wuling Motors Co and General Motors China, has apparently worked out something with local suppliers in Liuzhou to somehow convert production lines for the manufacturing of face masks. They expect to set up 14 manufacturing lines with daily capacity of 1.7 million units by the end of this month. They are also going back to work building cars this week, after the extended Chinese New Year Holiday. The plan is to start with a staggered production line, hopefully mitigating the effects of the virus. It will be interesting to see if it works. Let’s hope so.

When I travel solo I usually bring Lily something, a small gift or piece of art. This trip I’m bringing an assortment of face masks and bottles of hand sanitizer. Not very romantic, but I don’t have room for anything else. I think she’ll understand. A lot of medical pundits are saying the masks are mostly ineffective and after looking at that research I’d have to agree. I’ll wear a mask. I figure why temp fate. Besides, it seems local government officials in Liuzhou have made it mandatory.

As I said before, it’s China so anything could happen in the next 24 hours, but I am hopeful. Once I do get home I’ll hopefully be able to let everyone here know what life in China is like on the ground these days.

Next - A Post from Bangkok

8:30 PM - February 11th - Calcutta

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