Covid-19 in China
For weeks, Beijing residents have been confined to their homes with very limited access to the outside world. Their ticket to freedom: the magic number 37.3.
Every 300 meters checkpoints are set up to monitor the temperature of everyone in the city daring to venture outside of their complexes Those whose remain at or below 37.3 degrees Celsius or 99.1 degrees Fahrenheit are allowed to go out for necessities only. They must wear a mask and carry an identification card at all times or risk arrest.
For Bob and Huana Wilhelm, China’s swiftly imposed lockdown kept their family separated for nearly two months following the Chinese New Year in late January.
On January 20, Huana travelled from Beijing to her home province of Dandong with the couple’s three-year-old daughter, Hailee. The pair would be confined to the coastal city until mid-March, when travel bans within the country would finally be lifted long enough for them to return home.
Under strict quarantine after returning to Beijing, Huana described her unexpected travel experience over FaceTime as Hailee fussed in the background; agitated that she has been unable to play outside or see her friends for months.
“The second day of Chinese New Year, we noticed people were getting very serious with this situation and we found one patient who had it in Dandong. Dandong is going to shut down suddenly,” Huana says.
For two weeks after they returned home from Dandong, a sign was posted on the outside of their apartment door detailing the duration of their quarantine and providing information about grocery delivery. They were not allowed out of their unit.
The Wilhelms do not expect normalcy after their quarantine period is over.
Beijing has been labeled as relatively low risk with fewer than 600 reported cases, according to the COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science at Johns Hopkins University.
However, the Wilhelms will still be expected to follow certain procedures when leaving their apartment complex.
“The first thing we have to do is to go get the registration permit: the apartment entry-exit permit,” Bob Wilhelm said. “That will allow us to go in and out of the apartment. We will still have to wear masks. Everybody over here is still wearing masks.”
Although shelter-in-place orders have been lessened in Beijing, mundane activities like going to the gym, look nothing like they did before the pandemic.
“You’ve got to make an advanced reservation and only a certain number of people are allowed to go at a time,” Wilhelm said, “You’re only allowed to stay for 90 minutes.”
Modified schedules like this could serve as a preview of what’s to come for Americans as the curve continues to flatten.