03 Apr 2020 COVID-19: Report from IFLG’s Beijing Office
Our Beijing-based IFLG team member, paralegal Peiya Wang, put together this fascinating report of how the COVID-19 epidemic has progressed in China, measures implemented to slow its spread, and how the population there is coping with the unexpected disruption to daily life.
Wuhan started its lockdown on January 23, one day before the eve of the Chinese Spring Festival. Beijing and other cities immediately followed suit by using different levels of quarantine requirements. In Beijing, ALL local stores, companies, hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, parks, schools, train/bus stations, etc., are closed. But online shopping has been available the entire time, so people have been able to get all necessary goods and foods. The biggest challenge had been the shortage of protective face masks. The government suggested that everyone wear one and change it every one or two days, depending on its quality. It was difficult to get masks at first, but since this past weekend, it has become much easier to find masks in the markets (the online ones).
In mid-February, public transportation systems began to follow normal schedules, and companies started to allow their employees back to offices in different shifts. Everyone is required to provide their mobile-phone location tracking information (from service providers) to prove they didn’t travel to any other city in the past 14 days, and to get their temperatures checked when entering office buildings. Most of the people who can work from home are encouraged to do so. As of now, none of the education facilities has yet re-opened. All classes are continuing online.
In living communities, by government mandate, the management teams are checking all residents' recent (14-day) travel histories and their body temperatures at the gates. Every several hours, a cleaning team sprays disinfectant to the most frequently touched or visited common areas, such as elevators, doors, and the underground garage.
As of today (March 18), no hotel has re-opened unless it is being used by the government for quarantine purposes. No “unnecessary” facilities, such as movie theaters or entertainment parks, have reopened yet. For international travelers coming into the Beijing airport, special buses are arranged to take all the arriving travelers to an empty international exhibition center, where they are screened for COVID-19 symptoms before being sent to different hotels for the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
In the past few days, Beijing has seen only single-digit numbers of new cases confirmed, most of whom had traveled internationally. If this good trend keeps up for another week, or, in other words, for the typical 14-day incubation period for COVID-19, people in Beijing may be able to start enjoying good old normal lives once again.
For information about the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential impacts on intended parents, surrogates and donors, please see my report.