So, here we are. Exactly a month ago, no one anticipated we would wind up relaxing at home to save humanity. The novel Coronavirus has wreaked havoc in every corner of the globe, having ravaged China, fatally choking up Europe and now slowly creeping into Africa.
Most countries worldwide have effected complete lockdowns to halt the spread of this silent killer, ferociously roaming to get blood. According to John Hopkins University, the pandemic had killed about 47 000 people, with over 930 000 cases worldwide by 2 April 2020 (CNN). Zimbabwe had recorded one death from eight cases as of 1 April 2020. The country has been on lockdown since the 30th of March, and having never been in this predicament before, we’re literally out of sorts as to how we will endure these gloomy 21 days.
I had an interesting chat with Kudakwashe Mpofu (24), a master’s student in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province in China. He was in the thick of things when COVID19 reared its deadly head in January 2020. The rich and intriguing conversation we had makes it prudent for me (D.M) to share excerpts of the chat in their raw form, as he (K.M) shed light on how he manoeuvred being locked down in a foreign, freezing, diseased country.
D.M: What was the situation like at the onset of the COVID19 outbreak in China?
K.M: The virus started end of December, but it intensified mid-January thereabout. By the time I left China (on 3 February), measures were already in place to lock down cities to prevent movement, which was the biggest catalyst of the spread of the virus. We started seeing that the virus was not just a one week problem “which would vanish as soon as it came”. Life literally changed overnight, with restrictions to move around freely unless it was to buy food at the supermarket. That also changed, with measures later introduced to buy food online, wearing masks and avoiding groups. It slowly got worrying, as we read how the death toll was rising daily. Institutions were closed for the winter break so there was decongestion of students on campuses across China. Had this begun during the semester, the story would have been a different case. Chinese universities are big and take on thousands of students.