Shut-Ins Shut In: Seven days of isolation

During the Chinese New Year holiday (January 23-29), I left my apartment only three times – buying water from the coin op machine, doing laundry, and visiting the supermarket 200 metres away (which was mostly empty of people).  Originally I had intended to go clubbing once and to see friends, but I got lazy and used the time to write.  I didn’t lock myself in because of the coronavirus, but in retrospect I’m glad I did.  When I finally did poke my head out on Thursday to go to work, everyone in sight was wearing a mask except me, on the street and on the bus.  I haven’t felt so out of place in a long time, but at least I wasn’t a carrier.

Guo Jing of Wuhan, China, stayed home seven days for her safety and kept a diary which the BBC published. She says people were kicked off public transit if they didn’t have a mask. I got weird looks on Thursday for not wearing one.

Below are some excerpts from the BBC item:

Coronavirus Wuhan diary: Living alone in a city gone quiet

Wuhan has been under lockdown since 23 January, to try to contain the infection. Transport is shut down, most shops and businesses closed, and people are being advised to stay at home.

[Guo] Jing is a 29-year-old social worker and rights activist who lives on her own. For the past week, she has kept a diary, which she shares here with the BBC.

Thursday 23 January – the day of the lockdown

I didn’t know what to do when I woke up and learned about the lockdown. I don’t know what it means, how long it will last and what kind of preparations I should make. […] Many more people are wearing masks. Friends have told me to stock up on supplies. Rice and noodles have almost sold out.

* * * * *

Friday 24 January – a silent New Year’s Eve

The world is quiet, and the silence is horrifying. I live alone, so I can only tell there are other human beings around from the occasional noises in the corridor.

I have a lot of time to think about how to survive. I don’t have any resources or connections.

* * * * *

Saturday 25 January – Chinese New Year alone

Today is Chinese New Year. I never have much interest in celebrating festivals, but now new year feels even more irrelevant.

In the morning, I saw some blood after I sneezed, and I was scared. My brain was filled with worries about sickness. I was wondering if I should go out or not. But I had no fever and a good appetite, so I went out.

I wore two masks even though people say it’s pointless and unnecessary. I am worried about [poor quality] fakes, so a double mask makes me feel safer.

* * * * *

Sunday 26 January – making your voice heard

It not just the city that’s trapped. It’s also the voices of the people.

On the first day of the lockdown, I couldn’t write [anything about it] on social media [because of censorship]. I couldn’t even write on WeChat. Internet censorship has existed for a long time in China, but now it feels even more cruel.

* * * * *

Tuesday 28 January – finally sunlight

Panic has driven a wedge between people.

In many cities, people are required to wear a face mask in public. On the face of it, the measure is to control the pneumonia outbreak. But actually it could lead to abuse of power.

Some citizens without a mask have been thrown off public transport. We don’t know why they didn’t wear a mask. Perhaps they couldn’t buy any, or they didn’t know about the notice. No matter what, their rights to go out should not be taken away.

She says a lot more in the item.  It reads like a creepypasta without a monster at the end.



  1. brucegee1962 says

    No matter what, their rights to go out should not be taken away.

    Um, I’m going to have to disagree with this. Individual rights are almost the most important thing, but they’re trumped by preventing pandemics. Pandemics are one of best arguments for strong central governments. In these circumstances, if they want to pass a “no public transportation without a mask,” or even “nobody leave home unless you’re an emergency worker,” well, the stakes may be high enough to justify it.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    I figure, if we have an oppressive government that uses an overhyped epidemic to take away our civil liberties, we’re probably hosed anyway — if they weren’t using that as an excuse, it’d be something else. Best to rebel before it reaches that point.