Part One: China
I went back to my hometown, Xinzhou City in Shanxi Province in China, on 20th January, when the Coronavirus outbreak had not yet occurred. It was my holiday vacation during which time I was to reunite with my family and celebrate the Chinese New Year (25th January, 2020). It was several days following my arrival at home that the whole country began to lock down. Even during the 2003 SARS outbreak in China, there were not such strict limitations.
During this Chinese New Year holiday, all people were required to stay at home. Luckily, as in the Christmas period, most Chinese people store a large variety of food beforehand and stay home with their family during this most important holiday. In my hometown in northern China near Mongolia, it is interesting that people store many cabbages, potatoes, and carrots in the cellars during the long cold winter. In addition, meat such as pork, mutton or fish can be buried in the thick snow which would not melt for a long time.
I had not spent such a long time with family since I went to college when I was 18 years old. So, I was enjoying this long holiday before the epidemic became worse and worse. My flight back to Australia was scheduled to take place two weeks after my departure, but was cancelled because of the worsening situation. From that time, people began to worry about this unknown infectious disease. It was a pity that my wife Becky had stayed with her family in Hainan Province, which is more than 2500 kilometres away and we could not meet each other.
In my hometown, a city of three million people, there were no more than ten confirmed cases during this pandemic. In Shanxi Province, which includes 30 million people, there were no more than 200 confirmed cases. Generally speaking, the Coronavirus has been controlled relatively well in my hometown.