A lot has been happening among my WeChat contacts. Here are a few highlights, including news reports which so many of my Chinese friends have commented on.
Newest Covid Outbreak
After squelching an outbreak in Nanjing in July, things were looking up until another infection sent a different province into panic-mode.
“Covid-19 infections in China’s southeastern province of Fujian topped 200 as 48 new cases were added to a rapidly expanding outbreak of the Delta variant on Wednesday.”
The outbreak could have started with a Chinese man who was infected during centralised quarantine, rather than an imported case as was previously assumed. Officials originally thought the man, who returned from Singapore in August, was infected from abroad – even though he went through a lengthy quarantine period and tested negative multiple times. According to what was reported, he had a negative test before leaving Singapore, a negative test upon arrival, 2 weeks of hotel quarantine, another negative test, a 1-week hotel quarantine outside of his city of Putian (3 million), another negative test and a 7-day, self-monitoring, in-home quarantine with his family.
Somewhere in between, he was infected by the virus. He passed it to his two children who infected their class and school. His wife worked in a factory and also infected several there. It was just by chance that the school did a random testing of all the students when they found positive cases among the kids. More contact tracing connected them with the father.
Now 3 coastal cities have been affected, with the totals coming to 204. Of those, 50 children in Putian are now in quarantine, in isolation, with no one with them and medical staff in full protective hazmat gear. These videos, taken by a Chinese nurse of a 4-year-old boy, have gone viral.
As you can see, China takes its positive cases very, very seriously, shutting down entire neighborhoods, districts, cities and even provinces to continue with a Zero-tolerance stance.
Most recent article:
5.4 Earthquake Near Luzhou
My cellphone went off at 3:35 p.m. my time, 3:35 a.m. China time last Thursday. The message came from Angel, my former student who is now an elementary school teacher.
“Connie! We have an earthquake. It is very strong, almost 2 minutes long. I’m so scared. Things are falling. Think of me. So terrible!”
Immediately, I went into overdrive, contacting as many of my friends, colleagues and students as possible before searching out news reports.
Fortunately, all were fine with only a few deaths in the countryside due to poorly constructed homes. (See below the full report, with pictures of damage.)
I know, while living on the campus, I absolutely enjoyed the views from my 9th floor balcony area, but I certainly DID NOT enjoy the earthquakes that shook the building from time to time. Some were quite strong, one sending a few of us racing down the stairwell. The Wenchuan Earthquake in Sichuan, while 13 years ago, is still fresh in my memory. If you’re interested, go to my May 2008 blog entries. I reported almost on a daily basis numerous stories and observations. Such a moving and emotional time for all.
Returning to a Campus I Might Not Recognize
Over the past few weeks, as the school year begins, I’ve been receiving quite a few pictures of the campus. Before I left, there were many building projects still half-completed or in the process of starting. So many carefully drawn panels lined fences showing the grand and glorious structures that were to go up. I walked by them on a daily basis, wondering how long it would take to complete:
Two 5-star hotels, to be used as training centers for students majoring in tourism management and culinary skills, and also to host international scholars; The teacher family high-rise housing complex, for which a downpayment of $20,000 US was required to hold the space, with an additional $60 – 80,000 needed by each family upon completion; a fully-equipped, 5-story experimental pre-school and elementary school attached to the school; Another full campus, located across the main highway that divided the school from the countryside area; Another single teachers’ dormitory located next to my 11-story building.
I honestly was astounded when the pictures started flowing in from students and colleagues to show me all the progress that had been made.
Will I even recognize this place when I return??!!! See for yourself:
Pre-Covid Photos (Before I left on Jan. 7, 2020): Surrounding the Campus Area
Current Buildings located on Campus 1 and Newly Constructed Campus 2
As mentioned in the write-up of new additions, two were 5-star hotels which would be used as training centers for our students. One is Chinese, seen with the rounded portico and rock landscape. It is located at the side gate of the college.
The other is a Holiday Inn which is located directly in front of the teachers’ housing complex. I mentioned teachers wishing to buy in were required a downpayment of $20,000 with the eventual cost being $60 – $80,000 for each apartment’s ownership. (You can see the high-rise row of the apartment buildings behind the hotel picture). Interestingly enough, the teachers who purchased these were told 2 1/2 years ago they would be ready for moving in by the summer of 2021. Well, it’s past August and I was told they are not yet available but the Holiday Inn, a joint venture between the school, city and provincial governments, is up and running at full speed.
I guess we know where teachers and their needs stand in the great scheme of things: Pretty low on the totem pole.
During my long wait, I’ve done my best to keep in touch with my school, the Amity Foundation and Valentia, my visa expert in Chicago. Her response to my every-2-month emails for any updates concerning visas to China is this: “It’s painstakingly slow.”
The hold-up is always on the China end, with invitation letters needed from schools, companies and institutions. Such letters must be approved of at the city and provincial level. However, due to the Delta variant, which is highly contagious, no province or city official is willing to approve of a foreigner from overseas to enter their space. All Covid spreads have been traced to any person coming in from overseas, even with the 2-3 week strict hotel quarantine in place.
Just one bit of good news came out of a Teach-English-in-China company I have been following. After a year of desperately trying to get any of their applicants into the country, one has arrived and is starting to teach this Fall semester. The movement of one is somewhat of a miracle, especially happening before Golden Week (the 1-week holiday in October), the government’s ruling party meeting to take place in November, and China hosting the Winter Olympics in February and March.
Obviously, someone’s school has extremely high-up connections to get that invitation letter approved of and to maneuver around all the many hoops required to finally get that person into the classroom.
Sad to say, such connections will never be my college. Looks like I’m stuck waiting it out along with every Tom, Dick and Harry, or rather (in my case) Jane, Mary and Sue.
Until next entry, here’s wishing you Peace (平安) for your day.