Coronavirus & Warm Shanghai

With the outbreak of coronavirus in China, everyone has been more or less afflicted. I don’t know when it became a mindless habit for me to check the updated official data every morning. It couldn’t be worse to see the exponential increase in the number of new confirmed and suspected cases. When I open the curtains in the morning, the bustling crowd that usually lines up for breakfast has disappeared. The deserted streets make me feel lonely and strange. I have never stayed inside that long before and I was quite tired of limiting myself at home. However, there are many tiny and warm things happening around us that connect us to get through this. When I look at Shanghai I find warmth in it. Please remember that taking care of ourselves is the best thing we can do in this epidemic.

In the past two months, China’s economy was harshly hit with the outbreak of coronavirus. To prevent wider spread of the coronavirus, the Chinese government imposed further restrictions on public transportation and delayed the reopening date for most industries. The beneficial economic cycle was broken and China’s economy seemed to have entered a period of stagnation. Undoubtedly, as an international metropolitan center and a vital part of China’s economy, Shanghai was hugely affected. However, Shanghai has not become indifferent and impersonal due to the negative influence of the epidemic, instead, touching stories are happening every day and permeates into daily life. The “warm temperature” was passed on from pedestrian to pedestrian in the streets and lanes of the city. Although this year’s prolonged Spring Festival in Shanghai is not as exciting as it used to be, it is warmer than ever before because everyone is protecting this city in different ways, contributing their part of work and getting through this together.

Unlike the deserted streets in Shanghai, it was extremely busy in the main battlefield of this silent war–the hospitals. The emergency medical technicians and virus researchers were racing with limited time and doing their best to save more lives. In response to the appeal of the government and society, on the first day of the lunar year, three medical teams with hundreds of medical workers gathered emergency supplies hurried off to Wuhan to conduct emergency aids and medical assistance for local patients. At the same time, hospitals in Shanghai collectively set up a website where people all over the country could freely get immediate services and information about the coronavirus and consult with medical staff. In Shanghai, doctors, policemen, and even elderly virus experts were all firmly stuck at their posts. Compared to the risk of getting infected, they chose to shoulder social responsibility without any hesitation. Touched by the selfless spirits of people fighting on the front line, many anonymous citizens voluntarily provided free food for those in need. Since the start of the new type of coronary pneumonia “prevention and control of the war”, medical workers across the country have been fighting the epidemic for such a long time, people call them as “the most beautiful retrograder”. In honor of these white angels, a number of scenic spots in Shanghai are now offering free tickets to them after the resumption of operations.

More warm stories…

Overseas Shanghainese donated masks and other supplies to China, and there were hundreds of petitions from overseas Shanghai scholars hoping to return to China as soon as possible to offer help. For example, Tan Xiaoming, the deputy chief physician of the respiratory department of Ren Ji Hospital, who is currently working as a visiting scholar at a medical research center in the United States, submitted an application for an early termination of his overseas study and early return to China and he told his family that now is the time when his country needs him. 

Even as the epidemic gradually subsided, very few people went out for entertainment because the risk of cross-infection has risen sharply again along with industries resuming production, making it difficult for running business. The cost of operating restaurants and malls in Shanghai can be very expensive with the input of high wages of labor force and renting, and companies will have to face the risk of going out of business without relatively considerable profit. Given that many people order food and services on Meituan and Eleme platforms, some people then group together doing free delivery at weekends to help the catering and service industry. 

Last week, many mobile carts stocked with free snacks, fruit, bubble tea, beautiful flowers, facial masks and other daily items popped up on the streets of Shanghai, with a sign reading “Free for whoever needs them!” This is a mobile cart initiated voluntarily by some public welfare organizations and students in Shanghai, aiming to express gratitude for those who have made contributions and efforts to society during the epidemic of coronavirus. An old man who is a sanitation worker took a pair of sports shoes, saying that he only had one pair of shoes which was very inconvenient for him on rainy days. A delivery man chose a bunch of carnations for his wife, saying with a big smile on his face that he was too busy on Valentine’s day and owed his wife a gift and that nothing could be better than flowers.

The “warmth” is something that we can actually feel here in Shanghai. Many tiny but warm stories are happening, conveying a message that the suffering will pass with the joint efforts of everyone and that spring is already around the corner!

This article was written by Yuebei Xu. Contact via email at yx2121@nyu.edu.
Photo Credit:

It is anonymous in the original context from the official WeChat account “上海头条”,link is attached below.

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