Living in China during coronavirus outbreak

You are online reading this blog, so you must have heard about the recent coronavirus outbreak. I’m not going to repeat what the news are saying, but I wanted to write a litte about my own experience in living in Guangzhou during this time.

We started hearing about the coronavirus last week, but didn’t get that worried at first. When I tried to go to the pharmacy on January 23rd, surgical masks were already sold out. Luckily my sister-in-law always keeps a stash of masks and medical items at home as she is a nurse.

Visiting a local flower market on Friday Jan 24th

On Friday the 24th we still went to the local flower market, but just wearing our masks. People were still happily buying flowers and decorations, didn’t seem too worried about anything.

During that weekend everyone started to get gradually more worried. There were rumors that Guangzhou would be locked up so everyone rushed to the supermarkets to buy anything fresh they could find. Photos of empty vegetable and meat sections circulated on WeChat. We went to buy food too and my husband tried to find whatever was left.

Supermarkets got empty when people panicked, now supply is back to normal

During the following days supermarkets got more supply and the city of Guangzhou kept assuring us that the gates of Guangzhou will not be locked. But at the same time the number of infected and killed people was getting more and more.

I’ve never woke up in the morning to check how many people died the night before. Following all this social media and news everyday is probably making me more worried than I should be, but it’s not easy to stop checking.

Making dumplings together

The holiday has been extended until February 10th in Guangzhou and we spend our days at home and at the in-laws who live next door. Our daughter and her cousins think this is the best time ever. All of us adults having fun with them day after day! They already have learned to put on the mask when going out and wash their hands for 20 seconds.

We are lucky to have plenty of space at home too. We live in a house of two floors, my in-laws have four floors! It’s quiet in the village and many places outside with no or little people around.

The biggest threath to my family is mostly economical. Me and my husband are both entrepeneuers, we rely on people coming to our center to learn or to the gym to work out. Now we are closed at least until the February 17th, maybe even longer. The effects of this virus will probably last us this whole Spring. And it’s not about making a big profit, it’s about being able to provide for our family.

Another worry that has crossed my mind is that I could leave the country at any point, but at the moment my husband and my daughter can’t. My husband obviously needs to apply for a visa to go to Finland, but my daughter as a Finnish citizen, still needs an exit entry permit to leave China. These can of course only be applied when the official holiday is over.

We are not planning to leave Guangzhou or to leave China, we feel very safe at our home. But having the opportunity to do so would definitely make us feel even more at ease. This is something that all mixed couples might have to come accross at some points, especially when having kids.

My home office until the situation gets better and my actual office opens again

Our next steps are to find more masks for our family because we are running out, otherwise we can’t go out anymore. In Guangzhou it is now mandatory to wear a mask when going out and your temperature is checked at shops, restaurants, metro, taking a bus and so on.

We are also looking for more ways to work online and get back to work mode. During this week we have already slept more than ever, but getting slowly back to a routine will do us good. More time working for something important, less time on checking those numbers on social media!

Luckily we have plenty of space with not so many people

Our situation of course can not be compared with those whose family is sick or those under guaranteen in Hubei province. Our hearts go out to them and we try to do our best to follow any government recommendations and cut down false rumors if possible. The expat community has come together in a great way to help each other to get information and to support each other.

Written January 28th, posted few days later due to slow internet at home