The Outbreak Diaries: Adjusting to a New (If Temporary) Normal in Beijing

When this outbreak first hit, it created a sudden tsunami of changes (and deluge of news stories – I’ve never been so busy here at the office during a holiday). With all of these different adjustments to life here in Beijing, at first I really didn’t know what to say because I was still kind of digesting everything, trying to understand the situation and how it was affecting me and my husband.

The major TV news broadcaster reports all outbreak related stories under the banner of The War on the Epidemic (战疫情). Now the use of the term “war” might sound scary, but in many ways, it does feel like China is indeed at war with an enemy (albeit a microscopic one), marshaling so many resources to support the fight in Wuhan and Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak. And during a war, the whole country has to make some sacrifices to ensure victory.

For those of us on the ground, it means having to adjust to a new kind of normal. Not necessarily a frightening normal – but a temporary one with changes aimed at curbing the spread of this virus.

I detailed these changes in my post titled How the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak Has Changed My Daily Life Here in China.

But it’s not always easy to get used to a new normal.

It felt odd at times having to cover my face whenever I stepped out, and to see other people’s faces concealed. The streets still appear largely quiet with only a handful of people out, in contrast to the frenetic pace of life that used to buzz around the block, as residents heed the recommendation to avoid going out. And I never thought I would get accustomed to getting a temperature check to enter the community, but I have.

I’ve found it helpful to remember that these changes have a positive aim, even if they might bring some disruptions to what we were once used to.

I don’t know exactly when I started to find myself falling into a more comfortable routine, but it happened at some point during this week. I think I’m fortunate, as I largely still do most of the same things I used to before the epidemic – going to the office (where I always wave hello at the guards), cooking and baking, reading books, doing our “walking program” at home, enjoying warm foot baths, and of course, watching movies (including those sappy romantic comedies I can’t resist).

And that’s the key to adjusting — when you discover that, underneath it all, your life still remains much the same. How grateful I feel that this is true for me.

In the meantime, I will continue to rise each day, go to work, and stay safe as much as possible. And I will pray for Wuhan, for Hubei province, for all those on the front line and the patients, and everyone else affected by this epidemic.

Because as much as I’ve adjusted, I look forward to the day when can adjust to another reality — that we’ve won the war on this epidemic.

What do you think?

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6 Replies to “The Outbreak Diaries: Adjusting to a New (If Temporary) Normal in Beijing”

  1. Jocelyn I am sharing your blogs with many. I enjoy the as do others. We in the US look at China as the enemy but now we are learning that the govt of China is truly trying to win this “war”. As an old bacteriologist it is a hard fatigue battle that people often are in denial of the illness but the govt has shown the people and the people are in agreement with the govt. Bravo and may the war be won. All of China is in my prayers. Stay well and safe.

  2. The COVID-19 is a monster! There is not doubt about that. If China did not take those steps, locking down Wuhan and some other cities and requiring the people to basically quarantine themselves and take all precautions, there is no telling how the situation will turn out. It is a war against an unfamiliar monster but one that needs to be defeated sooner than later. Stay safe but don’t panic. 加油 中国!加油武汉!You will defeat the monster and send it to Hades!

    1. Thanks for the comment Om Ni. It is hard to imagine how things might have been, had China not adopted such stringent measures in response to the epidemic. Indeed, 加油 中国!加油武汉!

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