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OPINION: In the epicentre

 We can’t have read this much news in our entire lives, but we are scared because, you never know, the virus might find a host in one of us.

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Updated: February 3, 2020

It was one of the strangest mornings of my six months stay in Wuhan, China. It was sunny, perfectly seductive weather, great for basking and chilling out, especially for those who live in Wuhan, which normally has a chilly and rainy climate.

It was the morning of January 30, but there was not a single soul walking the streets of my University, which is usually filled with people running and walking around. The excited, happy, and sometimes tense faces one could see around here, were forced to hide in their rooms, in fear of Coronavirus.

A Pakistani friend, on seeing the empty streets was disheartened. I consoled him, saying that things would get better over the coming days, but deep inside I’m just as worried. It seems no one knows what scope the virus has, or what harm it will bring. The time, when one was supposed to relax, the fear of getting infected with Coronavirus has confined them to their rooms.

It has been a challenging month for those living in Wuhan, and wider China. Coronavirus has already killed more than 200 people, and more than 7000 people have been infected. Thirteen cities, like Wuhan, have been placed on lock down, people have been isolated in their homes or, in my case, rooms.

The bed in which I sleep is not new to me, the walls I’m staring at aren’t either, but I feel trapped in my own abode. This space is supposed to feel safe, I feel penned in. I am longing for the outside, I want to enjoy the sun and travel around a city which is still new to me—to make friends and new memories. But fear is forcing me to stay inside my room, and I don’t know when peace will restore.

Another battle I am fighting is not getting infected by the virus. Being a biological researcher, I know the virus is lower in criticality and mortality than SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), but the incubation period is between 2-14 days. It’s not dangerous as SARS and MERS epidemic but is harder to prevent, and that’s what is making me fearful. I came here to study, to achieve my dreams. Getting infected with Corona is the last thing that I want.

For the past week, students like me have been on lockdown inside our dormitory. We are watching, reading and hearing the news every single moment. We can’t have read this much news in our entire lives, but we are scared because, you never know, the virus might find a host in one of us.

But this is not the first time civilisation has battled an epidemic. And, if we are speaking of now, we are in a better place to deal with it, thanks to better health literacy, but the battle against Coronavirus will be lengthy and we need to coordinate well.

We like quick wins, even if it’s battle against a virus. But the quick wins only exist in our minds, not in reality. So, it’s time for the global community to stand together and make its citizens aware of the precautions they can take.

Even for someone living in Wuhan, the warm weather of today is a blessing. But, since I am living in the epicentre of the disease, I am forced to stay in my room with a cool head. I hope when the real spring comes, the virus will be gone. Then, I could travel whenever I can and want, enjoy the beautiful flowers such as plum, peach or apricot blossoms that Wuhan is famous for. It will not be too late when I will see my friends, running again in these streets, hearing their laughter, and seeing their faces as they enjoy the warmth of the sun. These are the only things I want now, and these are the things I am praying for.

Luitel is a masters student at Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan, China.

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The Kathmandu Post
About the Author: The Kathmandu Post was Nepal’s first privately owned English broadsheet daily and is currently the country's leading English-language newspaper.

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