A salute to the true heroes in the current COVID-19 outbreak
On Saturday afternoon, a message from a strange number popped up on my cellphone: "The No. 2 building you live in is under quarantine now. There is a 'close contact' in it. Please come back as soon as possible and take a nucleic acid test this evening."
A "close contact" refers to someone who has been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case.
I received the text message when I was cycling with my husband on a riverside greenway in the Pudong New Area, enjoying the early spring breeze and the fresh smell of flowers and grass. We were also planning to have dinner at an outdoor restaurant.
After reading the "unsolicited" message, we initially thought it was a telephone scam. So I called my parents who live in the building next to ours to check whether it was true, and the answer was unfortunately "yes."
We cycled as fast as we could to return home, all the way thinking about different possible scenarios. "Do we have enough food in the fridge?" "How long will we be in quarantine?" "What do we need to prepare when working from home?"
When we arrived home, a bunch of volunteers from Jiaxing Road Subdistrict in Hongkou District and dabai (a nickname for medical staff who are in white protective suits) were standing beside our building.
They gave us lots of information and tips, which immediately calmed our nerves. And, as one of the youngest couples in the building, we volunteered to help.
There are many elderly empty-nesters living in our building who don't have a cellphone, so they can't log onto Shanghai's health cloud app Jiankangyun to register and check the results of their nucleic tests. Some of them can't even walk outside their homes.
My husband and I wore masks and knocked on their doors, and then used our phones to fill in their information and update their testing results.
Some of the children in our building were in the middle of online classes, with some of the elderly people taking naps when we arrived. In order to avoid waiting and cross-infections, dabai called residents to do the testing in separate batches and I helped to coordinate inside the building.
A family on the fifth floor was expats and speak little Chinese. I knocked on their door with another volunteer to do interpretation for them.
One of them said: "We will do our best to cooperate. Thank you very much."
My immediate neighbor is a 78-year old woman who lives by herself. I ordered some fresh milk and vegetables from an online delivery platform and hanged them on her door handle. I also gave her my phone number in case she didn't feel well at night.
What I have done is nothing compared with what the medical staff are doing, not to mention the other volunteers and public security personnel who have been working day and night. I can see the sweat and fatigue on their faces. However, they patiently do the testing one by one and always cheer us up.
One of my neighbors said to them: "You are our support. You are nerve soothers. Thank you indeed."