We’re safe! On February 13, all employees and family members of our company safely passed the self-quarantine period for two weeks, and ushered in the first day after the quarantine. It seems like birds trapped in the cage for a long time could finally breathe the air in the sunlight freely! When recalling this period of quarantine, all sorts of feelings well up in my heart.
At the end of January 2020, the epidemic situation in China became increasingly severe. Although I was abroad, I was inevitably nervous and worried when I saw the overwhelming news reports and the rising number of confirmed cases every day. In consideration of the high diffusivity of the virus and the close personnel exchanges between China and the UAE, our company early launched relevant preventive measures: domestic returnees to the UAE need to carry out self-quarantine for two weeks, office needs thorough disinfection, employees need daily body temperature measurement, etc., and I also received masks, disinfectant and other personal protective appliances. All these reminded me all the time that danger was not far away from us.
Soon, a phone call woke me up from my sleep at late night. Our company informed that the UAE just confirmed the first 4 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 infection. The infected people were one of our closely associated colleagues and his family. All employees and family members of our company were required to have self-quarantine immediately and could not go out, which made my sleepiness disappeared instantly. Crowded hospitals, coughing patients, busy medical workers and other scenes reported by domestic media flashed into my mind immediately. The imaginary screeching sound of the ambulance, the rapid contraction of the ventilator and the wailing of the family members in the ICU made my head buzzing. Looking at the sleeping family around me, the deep fear and sense of helplessness permeated every corner of the room with the faint moonlight…
The next day
The next day, when it was still dawn, I got up and wiped every corner of the house with disinfectant without sleeping for all night. After that, I also took a long hot bath. I put on clean clothes and collapsed on the sofa, while the WeChat promo tone kept ringing. When I picked up my mobile phone, I found there were hundreds of unread messages in the company's working group. The leader of our company has been in the group since last night to inform everyone of the latest epidemic situation. When I learned that my colleague and his family members were in stable condition, and all close contacts had no suspected symptoms, my heart slowly calmed down.
The days of quarantine at home were not as easy as we thought. On the one hand, in order to minimize the loss caused by company closure due to the quarantine of all employees, all of us still worked at home. On the other hand, we should monitor the physical conditions of ourselves and our families in real time and report the situation at any time. Holding mobile phone in the left hand to discuss business, while holding thermometer gun in the right hand to measure body temperature gradually became the classic action of the home-quarantine.
In the beginning days during the quarantine, due to the feeling of freshness for this kind of new working mode, everybody had been still in a rather excited stage. But with the time slowly gone, that sense of imprisonment and dull feeling slowly grew in heart. Because it was an entire quarantine, my own family and children were unable to go out to work and go to school normally. We wore masks even when we were sleeping, except eating time. This kind of unprecedented experience was truly a kind of suffering. there were also complaints from my family. My children cried and screamed asking for going out to play with their classmates, the elderly at home questioned me like a repeater: “When can we go out?”, while my wife listed a long purchase list, followed up my progress of online-shopping in real time. I often got caught in a dilemma of keeping on working and consoling family members, attending to one and lose sight of the other. I was some sort of agitated.
Our company anticipated everybody’s mood swings and difficulties in life. On the one hand, it helped everyone arrange the daily needs for quarantine and removed worries. On the other hand, our company actively explained and publicized the severity of the current epidemic situation and the state’s attitude towards epidemic prevention and control to us. At the thought of 1.4 billion compatriots in China were almost all under the state of quarantine and semi-quarantine in order to prevent the further epidemic spreading in China and around the world, the huge sacrifice they had made, especially the spirit of fearlessness and optimism showed by Wuhan people under indefinite state of city lockdown when they were faced with many inconveniences in life and work, my family and I accepted quarantine more calmly, and the whole family began mutual reminder and supervision.
There is no border for virus. Our self-quarantine measures were not only responsible for our own and colleagues’ health and safety, but more for the public health security of the UAE. As overseas employees of Chinese enterprise, we were no longer onlookers of this fight against the epidemic, but soldiers facing the front line charging the enemy lines! The momentary sacrifice of short term closure of the company and the inconveniences in our lives was for the overall situation of more people’s health and safety. Our thinking and understanding of home quarantine were more unified. We resolutely obeyed organizational arrangements and earnestly quarantined to eliminate hidden dangers. Chinese Embassy and Consulate in the UAE sent greetings at the first time, paid close attention to our life and health every day, and provided us with a lot of valuable information and suggestions. Even though we were overseas, we felt the warmth and care of our motherland.
At the same time, my UAE friends I have met in business and daily life also constantly inquired about me and my family through various methods such as calls and messages, and expressed condolences to me. Habibi’s concern made me feel warmer. The UAE government took timely and effective measures for epidemic prevention and control. In addition, the UAE Ministry of Health has stated early that any Chinese citizen who has symptoms such as cough and fever will be free of charge for testing for the novel coronavirus and hospitalization. Meanwhile, the UAE police said anyone who taunts anyone infected with the virus in public or online will be fined 150,000 AED and jailed for six months. The warm behavior of the UAE government made us feel that we were not fighting alone! We had a responsibility to do a good job in quarantine and cooperation! I am extremely proud to live and work in such a lovely and respectable country!
The 14-day quarantine period has passed. All our close contacts and our families have passed the incubation period smoothly and safely! I lost no time in sharing this news with my UAE friends. They cheered for me as if they had experienced these things, which moved me again. Our quarantine is released, but the epidemic prevention and control work has not ended. As an ordinary Chinese citizen working overseas, I will continue to do a good job in the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus in accordance with the relevant requirements of the company, the embassy and consulate, and the health institutions of the UAE. I am more grateful and respectful for the UAE and her lovely people that helped us. There is an old Chinese saying, "You give me the peach, and I will reward you with the precious jade", and I would like to do my humble power to protect her prosperity and tranquility!
This quarantine life will surely become an unforgettable experience in my life, which has made me deeply aware of the close connection of fate between the family and country, experience the shared love of the China-UAE relationship and feel the empathy. As the WHO Director-General of Dr Tedros said, "With such a spirit of unity and a heart of mutual consideration, we will eventually defeat this virus!"
Undoubtedly, we have reason to look forward to the day when we defeat the epidemic as soon as possible! We hope that all patients can be cured, discharged from hospital and return to the normal life under the sun! We hope that the earth will become a safe and happy home for all of us!
Because we are not fighting alone!
This has been edited for clarity