COVID-19 Global Diaries: ‘I was stranded in lockdown Wuhan for months’

Annabella Woo lives in Hong Kong but found herself trapped in Wuhan - coronavirus ground zero - when the lockdown hit

My boyfriend was keen to visit Wuhan, his hometown, so I didn’t think, twice about travelling there with him this January. When we arrived I wasn’t struck with any misgivings, there were not many people wearing masks so I wasn’t worried. But suddenly, three days before the lockdown was brought in, it felt like the outbreak was out of control.

We decided to live the city and travel to his ancestral village (an hour from downtown Wuhan) in the countryside. Although we were worried that there might not be enough food or masks when we arrived, we thought it was better than sticking it out in the city. Not long after we arrived his cousin came down with a high fever and we were really afraid she was infected. Fortunately, it was a false alarm and she turned out to be fine.

coronavirus in Wuhan

A mother holds flowers while out for a walk with her son in Hubei province, Wuhan (Getty Images)

At the beginning of the lockdown, we were allowed to drive to supermarkets in other districts. But later, the village was closed off and nobody was allowed in or out. We had to start buying fish from the fishpond and we traded homegrown vegetables with neighbours. When all our home-raised hens and roosters were killed for food I was really hit hard and cried a lot. To appreciate their sacrifice, I now cherish food more than ever.

During the quarantine, I spent much of my time watching films, doing housework or playing badminton in the front yard. It isn’t too bad to live such a simple life. Of course, I do eventually want to return to Hong Kong, but the outbreak is not yet under control, and returning to Hong Kong would mean another two weeks of quarantine. There’s no urgent need, so I’m staying put for a while.

I’ve come to realise that when you can’t change the facts, the first thing you must do is adjust your mindset. I was fortunate. It’s better to be positive.

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