Coronavirus: Loved Ones Once Worried About Me in China, Now I Worry About Them

Are you OK? Is everything all right there in Beijing?

In late January and early February of this year, the messages from family and friends, though brief, packed a great emotional wallop. I sensed the care and concern behind them, and I could understand why.

I had followed much of the Western news coverage of the novel coronavirus epidemic, and it painted a rather bleak picture in China, often characterizing the pathogen as “deadly”. In fact, it seemed that every story about the outbreak in China had to use the phrase “the deadly coronavirus” multiple times.

Except, my reality in Beijing was a lot safer than what these media reports portrayed.

Was the virus something we had to take seriously? Of course. But I live in a small and isolated community (which checks our temperatures when we come in and doesn’t allow outsiders to enter). And my office is a 10-minute walk away so I never needed to take the public transportation. There were hardly any people on the street, so I didn’t need to worry about catching something from a stranger; besides I was exercising social distancing on the street, keeping at least six feet away from anybody. And I was ultra-cautious in following the recommendations to stay at home, avoid crowds and crowded places, and just in general not socialize or go out if not needed.

On top of it, my husband could work from home easily and we were even able to go a record 12 days without buying any groceries. And when we did finally order some, we did so through an online service which drastically reduced the chances of any contact with another person.

Sometimes it wasn’t easy to convey all of this to folks not here in China. But I attempted to as best I could. I hoped they understood that I was in an ideal situation for avoiding any possible infections.

I also took much comfort from the fact that I lived in a country that adopted an aggressive approach to control and contain the coronavirus.

I never thought that, all of a sudden, the tables would flip and I would find myself fearing for family and friends overseas, as their countries are forced to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.

The other day, family texted a slew of photos from local grocery stores, filled with the empty shelves that have made headlines. I couldn’t help worrying, were they able to buy enough to eat, so they can stay indoors? Do they have enough supplies to manage?

When I look at how other countries have responded to this pandemic, I actually feel safer here in China. How I wish they all had this sense of safety I had.

What I found solace in during the hardest of times was this — we were not alone in our situation in China. Everyone was staying more at home, avoiding crowds and the like. We were one unified front.

I hope they too will find that same sense of commitment and solidarity in their response to the coronavirus.

Whether or not you believe it, we are at war, albeit with an invisible enemy. And in wartime, I think of my loved ones a little more, and hope they will see themselves safely through this dark period.

Are you thinking of loved ones more during the coronavirus pandemic? How is your family managing?

P.S.: You can read more coronavirus-related posts here, including my tips for preparation.

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14 Replies to “Coronavirus: Loved Ones Once Worried About Me in China, Now I Worry About Them”

    1. Hi Peter, thank you for your comment. I’ve been following the news and it is alarming what’s going on in New York, so I really feel for you as someone there on the ground, caught in the hardship there. Please stay safe Peter — sending you hugs.

  1. They’re basically closing the doors on life in America with no planning, no vision to what they’re doing, and there are some in Congress who are fighting against any safety net for society. It’s like I’ve been saying: you can’t spell “pandemic” without “panic”…

    Now…onto how it is possible that Russia only has 90 cases.

  2. Same here. Until the beginning of February, family and friends back in Spain would ask me if I needed them to send anything. Now I’m wondering if I will have to be the one sending them things! Spain is currently one of the worst hit countris but they didn’t start taking it seriously until last Friday! And even now, many people still have to go to work. What’s the point of staying at home during the weekend like they did, if on Monday they have to go to work on a crowded subway??

    I’ve already read opinions by epidemiology experts saying that it’s now 100% sure that the virus is here to stay.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Marta — I’ve been watching Spain and think of you every time I see the cases go up. I know, I’ve wondered the same thing, if I need to send things over to my family/friends! That is crazy about still having people go to work in Spain…really not a smart move. Sending you lots of hugs and hoping your family/friends will safely get through the hardship.

  3. The western govts has at least 4-6 weeks advantage to prepare this and yet many are not prepared. It makes me wonder, are the politicians stupid or we, the voters, are stupid?? after all, we voted for many of these clowns !!! sorry for such harsh language.

    1. Nelson, thanks for the comment and I can totally understand your anger and frustration. It is warranted — as you said, these countries had time to prepare and squandered it. And in doing so they have put their citizens at great risk. I hope you will stay safe during this hardship. Sending you lots of hugs.

  4. Thank you, Jocelyn for all your posts. I’ve learned a lot from how you’ve handled the pandemic.

    The federal government in the US has been slow, confused, and confusing. Now, after all this time, they’re starting to take it seriously. Trump starting out calling it a hoax perpetrated by democrats. WA state where I live had the first confirmed case in the US (someone who returned from Wuhan). The WA governor has been relatively good about responding, but people are slow to take it seriously–some are, some are not.

    Since I’m in the vulnerable category, I’ve been staying at home since Mar. 2, but I guess that wasn’t soon enough. Three days later I woke up with a fever, and I’ve had one ever since. We don’t have enough test kits available, so I can only assume it’s the novel corona-virus.

    1. Oh goodness, Nicki…I am so sorry to hear you have a fever, and that you (and everyone in the US) is having to live through this whole nightmare.

      Now that you possibly have the virus, you might find this article helpful detailing some Chinese traditional medical treatments that have been shown to have some effectiveness: https://covid-19.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202003/17/WS5e702f52a31012821727fa19_1.html

      I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, and am hoping that you recover soon. Sending lots of hugs.

    1. Thank you for the comment, george. I can imagine, especially in these times — and it does not help that people like Trump are trying to use this virus to stigmatize Asian people. Hoping you stay safe during these difficult times. Sending you hugs.

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