LIFE in China with COVID-19

We will be sharing stories from Airdrie residents now abroad as we receive them.  Today we feature Asinaapoyi (Mait) Groom, a Bert Church grad of 2009 and First Nations educator now teaching the BC curriculum in Liuzhou, China.

To read Sarah Schulz’s story from Munich Germany click here

To read Josée Glen’s story from Madrid Spain click here

The following are excerpts from our email exchange with Asinaapoyi. He was quarantined in Liuzhou March 2 – 17th.

A year earlier, Asinaapoyi had bought a van to do a future road trip across southern China. In late January 2020, he and his friends were only five days into their journey when things began to change.

We were northwest of Kunming, Yunnan province when we started to notice medical crews setting up roadblocks into villages. We were to produce identification and have our temperature checked but were otherwise free to travel. Once we reached our lodging for the night however the police informed us that all hotels and tourist sites were to be closed and that we should return home. We were only permitted to stay in hotels in larger cities and things were extremely quiet as we made our way back to Liuzhou.

Once back in Liuzhou, Asinaapoyi decided to head to Thailand, but on his return March 2, like all travelers returning to Liuzhou, he was put in mandatory quarantine for 14 days.

Upon returning from Thailand I was required to do a 14-day quarantine at home. Which I was thankful for because in some areas, even within my city, people were doing quarantines in specific hotels. I was visited twice a day by volunteers and nurses. They would come and check my temperature and ask how I was doing. It was just fine. The officials also put in a system of tracking between public spaces and communities to better track people that might need to be checked in on if there was another case found. A big part of the response here has also been the volunteers. So many people across the nation willing to run the community health checks at the blockades, the people who assist the nurses, the food deliveries. It’s all been inspiring to see.

Now that your quarantine has ended, what are you seeing?

Once my quarantine was done on March 17th I was free to go out and wander as long as I had a mask with me. More and more people are choosing to go without them as our city is considering itself safe. We haven’t had an active case in a few weeks now.

At the moment we only have to deal with shortened hours at restaurants and bars. The parks are open. Some of the other entertainment options aren’t open again yet but they will be soon here in a few weeks. We’re required to register with the government on a platform that checks our movement in and out of communities through checking-in and checking-out on a smart phone however that’s also clearly falling away as time goes on.

Did everyone take it serious right away?

In my region, absolutely. We could see that it got serious in Wuhan and the health officials here wanted to prevent that. They took advantage of the head start and our city of three million only had a couple dozen cases thankfully.

What have you learned so far from this experience?

Its re-emphasized to me how many things in our life are just part of the rat race. We operate in dictated routines that clearly aren’t important. Only health, family and friends are important. I’ve also learned the value of a good stockpile of wine and flour.

What message do you most want to convey to the people in Canada?

I think I’d be contributing to the broken record by staying “Stay Home” but perhaps it means more coming from China. It clearly 100% worked here. It sucks, no one enjoyed it. People were isolated, anxious and bored. So I understand how people at home might feel. It’s the only thing that works for now however. Stay at home, make yourself a to-do list of things you need to do around the house or just things you’d like to do. Give yourself a reason to get up in the morning, make a nice cup of coffee and call a friend.