"Study the past if you would divine the future," is a quote attributed to Confucius, a Chinese philosopher. Fitting then, that as times are uncertain in so many countries, many can look to what is happening in China to understand what may be coming in their own communities.
The news coming out of China is uplifting. The country is making plans to ease the lockdown on Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. As The New York Times reported, Hubei "will on Wednesday begin allowing most of its 60 million residents to leave, ending nearly two months of lockdown and sending a strong signal of the government's confidence that its tough measures have worked to control the outbreak." The Times notes that Wuhan, the city hit hardest by the virus, will remain sealed off until April 8, although public transportation will start running again.
The news offers reassurance to millions of Americans who are looking at weeks more of uncertainty and social distancing. AccuWeather recently spoke to Daniel Qin, 30, who lives in Beijing, to understand what life is like as the country, often called the ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic, begins easing restrictions.
Daniel Qin speaks to AccuWeather from his home in Beijing, China.
Qin was vacationing in Seoul, South Korea, with his wife in January when their ordeal began, including circumstances that many others around the world will recognize. "That's the week that everything happened so quickly...It was very scary...People were starting panic buying," he tells AccuWeather.
"At the beginning, definitely a lot of confusion, you don't know what or how long this is going to be, you have a sense, like, this apocalyptic feeling, how long is this going to be?"
Qin says the confusion and uncertainty were difficult to bear. "We got an extended holiday for a couple days, then it was like 'OK, let's get back to work.' Then our company extended the holiday again for another week and then it was ‘we're going to start working from home,' and everything was like ‘until further notice,' and it was this sense of 'how long is this going to be?'"
These are emotions millions of Americans are experiencing as governors across the country begin to issue stay-at-home orders, directing people to avoid going out in public unless absolutely necessary. Qin says it was much the same in China. His biggest challenge during the weeks he spent indoors was not being able to walk around outside.
"I'm a nature guy. I like to be out in parks, and I think what I missed most was to be free and go outside without a mask, because Beijing, you can't be in a public place without a mask. If you go to a shop or go to buy food, you have to wear a mask."
He urges people to stay in touch with friends and family as much as they can. "I think tips for people is try to stay home as much as possible, wash your hands a lot and really well, and stay connected with family and friends without physical contact ... Talking to friends and family a lot really, really helped us to get through the situation."
Qin wants people who are just beginning to go through what his family endured to know that social distancing and staying at home really help. China's efforts to flatten the curve have paid off. New cases in the country have dropped to zero for five consecutive days from March 19. That's down from thousands of daily new cases at the height of the epidemic in February.
Qin says everyone is feeling the relief. "We still have to wear masks when we go out, but yesterday we actually went to a park and it was pretty crowded and I was surprised. They didn't check our temperature as we went into the park, I think because all the new cases in China have been pretty much from outside of China."
He urges Americans and others around the world to stay strong during times of isolation and quarantine.
"We can get through this ... I know that we're all working together in this ... It's OK to feel fearful but the important thing is not to stay in fear. If we just take the precautions and try to avoid crowds, we can beat this."
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