The University of Iowa

UI Lecturer Yuan Lu on the coronavirus and Wuhan, China

March 3rd, 2020
Yuan Lu, University of Iowa lecturer

Yuan Lu

Yuan Lu, lecturer in the UI Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures, was born and raised in Wuhan, China, the location where the 2019 Novel Coronavirus appears to have originated. Lu is in regular contact with family members and former high school and college classmates in Wuhan via WeChat video calls. Lu shares what he has learned about daily life in Wuhan below.

What difficulties are your friends/family facing in Wuhan, China?Based on your conversations with friends and family in Wuhan, China, how has daily life changed since the 2019 Novel Coronavirus outbreak?
As far as I know, when the coronavirus started to spread, the Wuhan local government did not respond very quickly. Therefore, it caused many people to be infected. But since the Wuhan local government realized the severity of the situation and that the coronavirus could spread so fast, they took very effective measures to contain the virus. For instance, the Wuhan government built two brand new hospitals within two weeks and converted almost twenty hospitals to "virus quarantine areas.”  All the confirmed cases and potential cases were hospitalized or are now under quarantine in the designated areas. The Wuhan government also did a comprehensive screening of all the neighborhoods and communities two weeks ago to see if there were still some people with coronavirus symptoms who are not under quarantine. In my opinion, the most effective measure they took was to lock down the whole city of Wuhan. This is not an easy task, as Wuhan has a population of almost 12 million people, and is even larger than Chicago. During the lock-down time, Wuhan people are not allowed to travel to other cities, to go on streets, or to get together in any outdoor activities. Nearly all the public events are cancelled. Wuhan people are required to stay at home and report to the authorities if they have coronavirus symptoms. Of course, this measure may bring Wuhan people a lot of inconveniences, but Wuhan people are very cooperative and willing to stand together with the government and their communities to combat the virus. I heard a lot of moving stories about how normal people or doctors/nurses take their responsibilities to try their best to overcome this difficulty. Thanks to the effective quarantine measures, the number of confirmed cases and death toll are dropping at a very fast speed in Wuhan. I strongly believe Wuhan will eliminate the coronavirus within two or three months. (But I think the lock-down will last for another one and a half months.)

Because my family members are required to stay at home and cannot go out without permission, they are very bored (they are glued to the TV screen or their smartphones all day long, which is not very healthy for them). Also, they cannot go out to buy groceries. They get their food by ordering online and the food will be delivered to them by special personnel (in order to contain the spread of virus). Sometimes they may not be able to get what they really want to eat. But the good thing is that the Wuhan local government will also provide some living necessity items for free (e.g., toilet paper and medicine if you have some other illness). If they do not need medicine and the stuff, they get some foods like eggs and flour from the local government. 

How are your friends/family managing?
In general, I think they have not faced many difficulties. Actually, their life is much better than I thought. They just cannot go out to have fun or get together with their friends. Other than that, they are doing very well. The interesting thing is that they watch some news saying there were many confirmed cases in the U.S. and there will be potential for a coronavirus breakout in the U.S., so my family started to worry about me (LOL).