Difference between “quarantine” and “observation” (隔离 and 观察)

Walking around Chinese cities and looking at signs at the gates of residential communities and notices posted to hotels and businesses, you will notice many different terminologies to describe different kinds of anti-coronavirus activities.

What do each of them mean? What, for example, is the difference between “隔离” (essentially, “quarantine”) and “观察” (“observation”)?

Talking to one person outside a hotel where people under "observation" were held, this is what they said:
"Observation" is less stringent. "Observation" lasts 7 days. It applies to some people who have been through certain areas but haven't shown symptoms. 

A group of people who worked for the same company were put into the same hotel and were being "observed" for 7 days and were carrying bouquets of flowers they had been given when they got to the end of their stay. The hotels are specially used only for people being observed, and air conditioning is turned off.

"Quarantine" applies either to people show show symptoms or who are coming from the most serious areas: Hubei province and Wenzhou city, among others.

Now there are different policies in place in different cities and different districts of the same city and different policies for different circumstances. The policies are changing over time, too. So the above is not a crystal clear answer, nor an answer that applies in all cases.

The word “观察” has also been used for periods of 14 days.

Post-Spring Festival, neighborhood watches and McDonalds through the window

Spring Festival holiday ended February 9, but cities still have not returned to normal. As I wrote in my latest article for The National Interest, most businesses are not scheduled to return to operation until late February.

Restaurants are supposed to be closed, in accordance with local regulations, but I did observe some small restaurants skirting/not following the rules, I mentioned in my article. Fast food joints are permitted to be open, however, so if you do not have a kitchen–and I do not, in my hotel–your only options are not-technically-legal family-run restaurant (👌), instant noodles, or dumplings/McDonalds spicy chicken sandwich by motorbike.

McDonalds and KFC only process mobile orders, however, so if you visit one of their brick and mortar locations, you have to order by scanning the QR code at the door then have your food handed to you through the window.

Residential districts have teams of Communist Party volunteers monitoring who enters and leaves and taking temperature.

Those who return to Nanjing from outside of the city (hundreds of millions of Chinese returned to ancestral homes for the lunar new year) are to be monitored for 14 days, with a particular focus on those who are returning from Hubei province or Wenzhou city (one of the hardest-hit cities outside of Hubei, as I wrote in another TNI article).

Almost all the shops are closed except for convenience stores and a few other snack vendors, so most streets are long lines of metal gates. There is something I find beautiful, or just eye-catching, about the multi-colored advertisements for roll-down gate repairmen stuck to roll-down gates.

One in particular, graffiti on graffiti:

Overseas Wenzhounese donate to help Wenzhou compatriots under quarantine

Spain is home to more than 100,000 people from Wenzhou, a coastal city in Zhejiang known for its entrepreneurial spirit. Over 2 million Wenzhou people live outside of Wenzhou, and the a majority of the Chinese ethnic populations of many European countries, including Italy and Spain, are Wenzhou people.

Now Wenzhou is the city suffering the worst from coronavirus outside of Hubei province. Over 400 people in Wenzhou have contracted the virus. And it is under semi-quarantine.

Currently rail lines into Wenzhou are shut down, and people who do come into Wenzhou are made to self-quarantine for two weeks. Wenzhou people who leave the city are put into designated hotels for two weeks upon arrival in new cities. And only one member of each household can go shopping every so often.

With Wenzhou people facing hardship, the Wenzhou overseas network has sprung up. Xinhua reports that Wenzhou people in Spain are organizing to help those in both China and Spain.

The author quotes multiple Wenzhounese Spanish residents donating between 1000 and 2000 Euros (7,600 – 15,300 RMB). Some Wenzhounese who had previously flown to Spain are holed up with family members or friends who are helping take care of them while they “self-quarantine” in Spain.

“You going to arrest me?” Unmasked rebels get into arguments, start fights

With coronavirus having infected over 30,000 people, everyone in almost every city in China is either required or heavily encouraged to wear masks whenever they go outside and into public spaces. In some places, it is even legally-binding.

There have, however, been some examples of rebels who went so far as to start fights after being reprimanded for not wearing a mask. There was an example last week, on a public bus in Beijing, where a man was told by the bus attendant that he could not be on the bus if he was not wearing a mask.

“Are you saying I cannot go home if I can’t buy a mask?” he said and told the bus conductor to mind his own business.

The bus conductor said it was his job to enforce the mask rule.

The unmasked man reportedly hit him and was arrested.

Now there is news from February 7 that a man called the police to report himself for not wearing a mask. After being told by a street volunteer to wear a mask and engaging in argument, the man pulled out his phone.

“Hi, 110 [China’s 911]? I am here at Nanshi Fuxiao. They won’t allow me to walk on the street because I’m not wearing a face mask. I’m reporting myself, seeing if you’re going to arrest me or not. I will wait for you!”

He did not end up waiting, but he was apprehended later and, according to Man News, made to give an apology to the street volunteer.

Empty shelves in China: Supermarkets running out of fruits and vegetables

In the wake of panic buying caused by the coronavirus outbreak, shelves in supermarkets selling fruits, vegetables, disinfectants, and, of course, face masks, are empty at many stores across the country.

Where I am residing, Nanjing, Jiangsu’s provincial capital and the former capital of multiple dynasties, about 190 miles northeast from Shanghai, the fruits and vegetables had been cleaned out from one Hema Supermarket in the Jianye district by afternoon of January 28. Most of them had been restocked by morning of January 29.

Meanwhile local convenience stores still stock packaged oranges and dragonfruit.

Some news outlets, authority figures, and friends have been advising the public to eat more fruits and vegetables to ward off the virus.

Hospitals in China ask for donations of face masks, medical goods — Here’s how you can help

Hospitals throughout China have issued appeals to receive donations of protective medical products, including face masks and protective suits, goggles, and masks. Many hospitals are lacking supplies or at risk of lacking supplies in the future due to large numbers of patients seeking treatment. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that many domestic factories that produce medical supplies are shut down during Spring Festival.

Americans, Canadians, and others have already responded to the call to donate goods. Now I have summarized two of the press releases and listed the addresses for other hospitals, should any of my readers wish to donate goods that could be useful. I have contacted some of the contact people at some of the hospitals listed, and they confirmed they would be happy to receive goods from abroad. If anyone needs any help with how to send packages to China or has questions, you can email me or contact me by email or on Facebook.

Probably the easiest thing for most people to send would be N95/surgical face masks (GB19083-2010, which is a Chinese standard) or gloves, but protective suits and other advanced protective products would be extremely useful.

Social Contributions Needed for (Nanjing) Jiangsu Provincial People’s Hospital Announcement

My introduction: Nanjing, the city where I have lived for four years, is the capital of Jiangsu. It is the coastal province of 80 million bordering Shanghai to the west and north. It has 70 confirmed cases, as of January 28, which puts it about in the middle of the pack of severity. It is not the most severe, but medical personnel everywhere need any support that others can offer them. Nanjing has been good to me over the years.

Jiangsu People’s Hospital is on the front line of the fight to prevent the spread of the new form of coronavirus. It has been chosen as the main hospital in the region to receive patients suspected of having the virus.

“Because the number of people seeking medical attention every day is quite high and there are many medical personnel,  in order to better treat the ill and better protect frontline medical workers, our hospital is opening a channel to accept donations, a standardized channel that will accept legal donations from people of all social circles.”

The following goods are needed:
N95 face masks,
medical-grade surgical masks,
medical-grade protection suits,
quarantine suits,
protective goggles,
protective masks

“The above one-time use medical-grade protective goods must come in full packaging and within the listed period of effectiveness. Some of the protective goods must meet or surpass national standards.”

Address to send contributions (copy or print both Chinese and English):
People’s Republic of China
Jiangsu Province, Nanjing City, Gulou District
Jiangsu People’s Hospital
Guangzhou Lu No. 300

Wuhan City Hanyang Hospital is Receiving Compassionate Contributions

My introduction: Wuhan is where the outbreak started, and it is one of a dozen cities under quarantine. Seven hundred of the confirmed cases and most of the deaths have occurred in Wuhan. Hanyang district is in the south of urban Wuhan and was one of the three cities that came together to comprise Wuhan. (The sprawling city of 11 million includes Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang.)

This hospital’s press release reads in part: “Our staff of more than 1,000 are fighting bravely on the frontlines for the health of the people. They are throwing their whole bodies into the work of stopping the spread of the outbreak.”

They need N95 face masks, surgical face masks, single-use medical-grade face masks, protective suits, surgical attire, protective goggles, protective face masks, and protective shoe coverings

Address to send contributions (copy or print both Chinese and English):

People’s Republic of China
Hubei Province, Wuhan City, Hanyang District
Wuhan Hanyang Hospital
Moshui Hu Lu No. 53

Image from nearby Zhushan County

Zhushan County People’s Hospital Lacking Needed Goods News Release

My introduction: Wuhan is not the only city affected in Hubei. There’s over 1,400 cases in the whole province. Zhushan County is located in northwestern Hubei and has a population of approximately 500,000. The county is under the administration of Shiyan city, which has 65 cases of coronavirus.

“Since the spread of the new form of coronavirus pneumonia began, the entire staff of medical personnel at Zhushan People’s Hospital have energetically thrown themselves into the front line of preventive action. The whole hospital is united from top to bottom with one heart, running into the scene of danger, dedicated to winning the fight against the epidemic.”

“In order to do our jobs of prevention well, we urgently need medical-grade caps, medical-grade face masks, protective suits, protective goggles, and other protective goods.”

Address to send contributions (copy or print both Chinese and English):
People’s Republic of China
Hubei Province, Shiyan City, Zhushan County, Chengguan Town
Zhushan County People’s Hospital Yaoxie Management Office
Renmin Lu No. 3
人民路3号 竹山县人民医院药械管理办公室

Other goods cited in some hospitals’ releases include single-use gloves. For technical specifications for the protective suits, they should meet the Chinese standard of GB19082-2003. N95 face masks should meet the GB19083-2010 standard.

Guangzhou Medical University’s No. 1 Hospital

People’s Republic of China
Guangdong Province, Guangzhou City, Yuexiu District
Guangzhou No. 1 Hospital
Yanjiang Xi Lu No. 151

Chongqing City Public Health and Treatment Center

People’s Republic of China
Chongqing Municipality, Shapingba District
Geilinshan Baoyu Lu No. 109

Lists of hospital press releases asking for donations in other regions:

Hunan hospitals needing donations

Anhui hospitals needing donations

More Wuhan hospitals needing doantions

If there are any other regions you are interested in helping and would like to learn information about, then send me a message.

Passengers on flights from Thailand to Nanjing quarantined for two weeks

Passengers on two flights from Bangkok to Nanjing are being quarantined after having landed in Nanjing the night of January 26, according to CCTV News.

Up to 333 passengers on Thai AirAsia flight FD326 and Thai Lion Air flight SL922 were affected. Forty-eight of the passengers were discovered to have visited Wuhan before. After an inspection, the passengers were taken to a medical center to be quarantined for 14 days.

“Urgent search for passengers!” Travelers on train cars with sick people urged to seek attention

Any passengers who rode in train cars with people who were found to have contracted coronavirus are urged by Chinese authorities, in calls promoted in the press, to visit a disease prevention and control center in their hometown.

An article in People’s Daily titled, “Spread urgently! Urgent search for Jan. 21 passengers of car #7 in train D3937,” warns that a passenger who got off the train in southwestern Guangxi province has been confirmed to have the disease.

The train, which runs a relatively short distance from Liuzhou, Guangxi to Dali, Yunnan in the neighboring province, does not pass through Wuhan or the province of Hubei at any point.

Other warnings were published about other trains.

Many Chinese people are reluctant to take trains, planes, and buses now. Some do not even want to take public transportation in their own city! The Nanjing Metro and others have made wearing face masks on board mandatory.

Tips for celebrating Spring Festival in the time of coronavirus

Coronavirus has caused Wuhan to be virtually quarantined from outside transportation, disrupted people’s plans and lives, and infected over 1,200 people. But while the situation is dire in central China, people in most of the country are relatively safe.

People are still taking precautions, though. Surgical masks are sold out at some pharmacies. Some people are hosting smaller gatherings than they had anticipated. Museums and public places across the country are closed to decrease the risk of the virus spreading.

But it’s still Chinese New Year, and, although I opted against traveling further afoot to celebrate, I’m still going to observe the festival here in Nanjing. I grabbed a bottle of bai jiu and shared it with some friends I met at the hostel.

Celebrating Spring Festival in a big city is always different, because most of the residents go back to their ancestral hometown. But here are a few tips that apply both in ordinary times and now with the disease spreading:

  • Bai jiu kills viruses, don’t you know. Drink up!
  • Unless you are seasoned in the appreciation of bai jiu (producer Derek Sandhaus says you need hundreds of drinks to develop a taste), most foreigners can’t tell the difference between two different brands of bai jiu. I say, select the cheapest.
  • Lots of restaurants in cities are closed during Spring Festival, but Lanzhou beef noodle restaurants are almost always open. (As are restaurants in mass tourism districts, like Fuzimiao and Laomendong in Nanjing.)
  • Take precautions and use common sense. One local village broadcast on its loudspeakers a call encouraging residents to tell their relatives working in Wuhan to stay home. But don’t go overboard. It’s still Spring Festival, after all, and nothing you worry about is going to decrease the likelihood of you getting sick.

Shanghai airline Juneyao extends routes to Manchester

Juneyao Airlines is touching down in England!

The airline, which is based in Shanghai, already offers daily flights to Helsinki. Now it is going to continue to Manchester three days a week starting in March 2020.

The flight to Helskini takes about 3 hours, followed by about 9 hours to Shanghai. Those are flights HO1607 (to Helsinki and Manchester) and HO1608 (to Shanghai).