3 Things I learned during the Coronavirus outbreak in China
The first cases of the COVID-19 disease were reported in China in the end of december 2019. As we all know, the situation evolved to what is now a global pandemic that is currently affecting virtually every single country on the planet. I was in China since day 1 of this sad and complex episode in recent human history and it has been extremely interesting to see the different reactions and responses that are emerging around the globe.
As China was the first country to go into lockdown, I learned a few things I'd like to share with you all today in a bid to maybe ease some of the pain that comes with this difficult period we are all experiencing:
1 - IT IS GONNA END AND LIFE WILL GO BACK TO NORMAL Life is made of stages and phases and every single one of them comes to an end. Is hard to see it when you living them, but it eventually happens. This outbreak is no different. China being the first country to go into lockdown it was also the first one to come out of it and guess what: it does happen!
I live in Shanghai and recently also been to Shenzhen. Both cities had considerable amount of cases when the outbreak started and Shenzhen was considered a "danger zone". Public transport was empty, the streets were deserted and bars and restaurants were mostly closed, making headlines all across the globe. All of this was true. It is also true that the same bars now are open and packed, the metro system is completely full during rush hours and life in the 24 million people city feels pretty much normal. Aside from the fact that everyone is still wearing facial masks and the occasional temperature checks in buildings and shopping centers, everything else feels just about right.
According to government sources, Shanghai currently has 166 infected people still in hospital and 159 of them came from outside the country.
2 - QUARANTINE DOES WORK AND SAVES LIVES
Less than a month after the outbreak emerged (end of december) in the city of Wuhan, capital of the province of Hubei, China put the entire province in complete lockdown. The same measures were also implemented in different parts of the country with different levels of severity, following local guidelines and conditions. The graphic you see here shows the total number of cases registered inside China (source: 丁香医生+) and it clearly shows how quarantine and social distancing help reduce the speed with which the virus spreads.
So work from home, stay indoors as much as you can and do your part to help this epidemic end faster.
3 - STAYING INDOORS FOR WEEKS IS NO ONE'S FIRST OPTION BUT WHAT YOU DO WITH THIS TIME IS STILL UP TO YOU
Obviously none of us had a quarantine in our new year's resolutions when 2020 started and yet it is here and we have to face it. When I came back from Shenzhen to Shanghai, in the first half of february, I was asked to stay in my house for 14 days as, back in those days, Shenzhen was deemed a 'hard-hit' area, but even before I was already barely going outdoors. In the province of Hubei, the lockdown has already started to be lifted, after 2 months. This shows that is hard to predict how long the lockdown is gonna last exactly, but for those going through this experience right now, here is my tip: it will be as painful as you let it be.
Think about all the things you complained you never had time to do, well, now is the perfect time to clean that personal backlog we all struggle with. The quarantine period is likely to last anywhere between 2-4 weeks on average, which you have at least 14 days in your hands, and might as well make the most out of it. I'm currently working in the nightlife/entertainment and trading industries and this epidemic highly affected both of my businesses, let alone the impact on my personal plans for 2020. Everything ranging from revenue forecasts to travel plans were basically destroyed, but you know what? I also wasn't counting on one month of isolation.
What did I do? I re-did all the plans that got affected, I re-evaluated options, pivoted my businesses according to this new scenario and when the quarantine was over, I was ready to roll!
Truth is, this entire situation is terrible and it is likely to be remembered as a very sad episode in recent human history, but it is still up to each and everyone of us to ease the pain on ourselves, the others around us and do our part to make sure it ends as fast as possible. So, stay home with your family, eat well, take care of the people you care and use this time to rationalize the real impacts of the virus on your life. Grab a pen and paper and evaluate where the virus will hit you personally. With that in mind, start to brainstorm about contingency plans and possible opportunities that might have just showed up that weren't there before. Take a deep breath, be positive and be sure there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The same way COVID-19 came into our lives it will leave, and when it does, the people that made the most out of their isolation will definetely have a head start.