Centenarian doing his bit to fight against pandemic

Zhou Anna
Liu Zhiqiang, aged 104, is wheelchair-bound and keen to get out of the house after two years to do his bit for the community.
Zhou Anna

Braving steady rain and strong winds, residents in my community started to queue for nucleic acid testing at 8:30am.

Among the first to appear at the site was one of the "celebrities" in the neighborhood, 104-year-old Liu Zhiqiang.

This was my first encounter with a centenarian. And prior to this my understanding of people of such a senior age was difficulty in mobility and somewhat slow thinking.

It proved to be only half true.

While Liu was pushed to the site in a wheelchair by a domestic helper, he kept waving to the dabai (literally "big white," or the medical staff in white protective outfit). According to a community worker, Liu arrived at noon on Wednesday and was even earlier the next day.

"I like to come here early so that the medical staff can leave earlier," said Liu, with striking clarity.

Centenarian doing his bit to fight against pandemic
Zhou Anna / SHINE

Liu arrives in a wheelchair to do the nucleic acid test.

Liu has six children, but it is quite a challenge for them to regularly visit their father since they all live far from the family home. The domestic helper surnamed Wang has been caring for him for many years.

Liu's health, according to Wang, is quite good, but he has not been able to go out for almost two years due to some problems with his legs. When he learned of the community nucleic acid testing on Wednesday, he asked Wang to take him downstairs as soon as possible.

Centenarian doing his bit to fight against pandemic
Zhou Anna / SHINE

The nanny usually communicates with Liu on a whiteboard.

A community notice said that people with mobility issues could contact the neighborhood committee for home services. Both Liu and Wang thought that unnecessary.

Since Liu doesn't have a cellphone, Wang used hers to make an appointment through the app.

"The less trouble there is, the better," she said. "It's no trouble at all for us. As a matter of fact, he was so excited when he heard about it, just like an excuse for him to get out."

As a former political advisor for Jing'an District, Liu has always been enthusiastic about social work.

Sixteen years ago, soon after moving to the neighborhood, he spent more than 15 months urging Putuo District government to build facilities for the disabled in the community. He was "tired, but found it enjoying," in his own words.

The community leader said Liu was always willing to help with many community issues.

"He is like a lucky star for our community. I sincerely hope, with a bit of his blessing this time, this lockdown will be lifted as soon as possible."

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