Tag: COVID-19

COVID-19 in Shanghai

COVID-19 in Shanghai

Shanghai right now

The Corona virus situation in China and Shanghai has been improving a lot in the past weeks and we’re maybe 60-70% back to normal. I thought I’d try to sum up how things developed and what the current status is.

As of right now, schools are still closed but we are back at the office and many places are open. The city is running again, though with a lot of precautions. Everywhere you go, there are temperature checks: you cannot enter malls, restaurants, parks or our building without having your temperature taken first. To go to our office, we have to fill out a form everyday which asks about travel and symptoms. Many places also want to see a QR code which shows if you have been in a high risk area in the past 14 days. If the code is green, you’re good to go. Most places have hand sanitizers and everyone wears masks … like me at the park yesterday, or pretty much everywhere I go that is not our apartment.

So overall, life has returned to fairly normal here. The metro is busy again, there are some traffic jams and you can meet friends and go places. Last week, we went to a birthday party, I went to the first GGI event of the year and we met friends for dinner.

The only big impact on us at the moment is, that we can’t really leave Shanghai. I was supposed to spend the weekend in Singapore with my sister, nephew and parents, but many countries, Singapore included, won’t let anyone who has been in China (and now also other high risk countries) enter. Our company has the policy that if you leave Shanghai, you have to quarantine at home for 14 days before coming back to the office. All business trips are cancelled, which means we are staying put for the time being. Not having a vacation planned or even knowing when our next trip will be is definitely something new.

Starting at the beginning

People in Shanghai first started the talking about the virus the week before Chinese New Year. I left for India on January 23 and the days leading up to it, I heard about it more and more at the office and the number of people wearing masks on the metro increased daily. We were not really worried about it then. Life in Shanghai wasn’t affected and the night before I left, I went out with friends. We were still making jokes, drinking Coronas and and had a blast at the bowling alley.

The next day at the airport, EVERYONE was wearing a mask, and in India, passengers from China had to go through a temperature screening. While I was on the trip, things got really serious and we got more and more bad news. It was announced that schools would stay closed, we heard masks were difficult to get, and whole cities went into lock down. People even messaged me saying I should stay in India longer or go somewhere else, but to not return to China. I wanted to go back and was convinced it would be okay and I would go back to work on Monday. I did buy a pack of masks at a pharmacy in Delhi and returned to a very quiet city on February 1.

When I got home, it was announced that the CNY holiday was officially extended for another week, so our company, and pretty much everything else had to stayed closed until February 10. The week after, everyone was advised to work from home. That meant that I was mostly at home for 2 weeks and left the house only 4 or 5 times. The few times I did leave the compound, I walked through a ghost town. Everyone in Shanghai really isolated themselves as much as possible. The only people I saw outside were delivery drivers and people buying food.

I’ve been back to the office since February 17 but was there almost by myself for the first week. Many people still worked from home or were stuck in other provinces longer. My commute to work only took around half the normal time during that first week. Since March, most people are back and businesses are slowly opening up again. Everyone is wearing masks, big meetings taking place virtually and I think I have at least 3 conversations a day about corona, but it’s still good to be back to normal, or at least a new normal.

Thorben was supposed to return to Shanghai on February 2 but decided to extend his stay in Germany. He had a business trip to Morocco planned and didn’t want to get stuck. It took him until February 23 to return to Shanghai because getting his flight rescheduled was complicated and the date kept getting pushed back. In the end, he and a lot of masks and sanitizer made it back safely. After 2 weeks of home office, he’s also allowed to go back to work now.

Getting tested

Our friend Silvia works for a lab which developed a test to check if you have the Corona virus. She needed samples from people to get more data, since they were working to get the test approved. Therefore in mid February, a few friends and I could say with confidence that we definitely do not have the virus 🙂

Staying sane

The first 2 weeks after India were tough for me. I was home alone and most places were closed. I watched a lot of TV the first week, the most since I had pneumonia 2 years ago. To be exact, I caught up on the past 1 and a half seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and finished the last 3 seasons of Suits. I also caught up on all the sleep I didn’t get during my India trip. Other than that, I cooked and baked a lot, read 2 books and also worked much more than usual.

I spent some time video chatting with my family and friends but after 5 days home alone without real human contact, I was getting pretty desperate. Luckily, he situation in Shanghai never got really bad. According to official figures, we have less than 400 cases here, most of them already recovered and by mid February the number of new infections was below 5 a day. I was always able to leave my apartment, as there was no mandatory quarantine by the government for us. With everyone wearing masks and keeping a distance, I never felt unsafe or worried about my health. Of course that’s easy to say not being in any at risk group.

Since most restaurants were closed until March, and some still are, we had private gatherings. Tim and I made wontons together, Silvia and Gabor made pasta for me (twice!), I had some people over for dinner and brunch, went to a games and pizza night at a friend’s house … Thanks to the awesome people who kept me sane and provided human contact and excellent food 🙂

Now, I’m hoping, the measures which are taken across the globe are effective and soon, infection numbers will go down, so normal life can start up again. We’re continuing with our safety measures here and I really hope it is enough to keep the virus at bay.

Stay healthy, everyone!