Photos: Teacher’s photos document virus-hit Chinese city

Arek and Jenina Rataj were starting a new life in the Chinese industrial center of Wuhan when a viral outbreak spread across the city of 11 million. The couple, who have been married for five years, bought face masks for protection and kept to their apartment on the campus of Jianghan University, where Poland native Arek had recently taken a position teaching visual communication. Arek is planning some kind of project with his photographs and the objects from their trip — such as their medical bracelets for travelling and ear plugs used on the military flight. His hope is that it will prompt governments to develop stronger evacuation protocols for emergency events such as that still gripping Wuhan.

UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2020 03:19 PM IST 10 Photos
1 / 10
A worker takes the temperature of a customer at the entrance of a Walmart store in Wuhan. Arek and Jenina Rataj were starting a new life in the Chinese industrial center of Wuhan when a viral outbreak spread across the city of 11 million. (Arek Rataj / AP)

A worker takes the temperature of a customer at the entrance of a Walmart store in Wuhan. Arek and Jenina Rataj were starting a new life in the Chinese industrial center of Wuhan when a viral outbreak spread across the city of 11 million. (Arek Rataj / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2020 03:19 PM IST
2 / 10
Shoppers wear face masks as they line up at a grocery store in Wuhan. Almost immediately, the metropolis teeming with Lunar New Year holiday revelry turned quiet. The couple, who have been married for five years, bought face masks for protection and kept to their apartment on the campus of Jianghan University, where Poland native Arek had recently taken a position teaching visual communication. (Arek Rataj / AP)

Shoppers wear face masks as they line up at a grocery store in Wuhan. Almost immediately, the metropolis teeming with Lunar New Year holiday revelry turned quiet. The couple, who have been married for five years, bought face masks for protection and kept to their apartment on the campus of Jianghan University, where Poland native Arek had recently taken a position teaching visual communication. (Arek Rataj / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2020 03:19 PM IST
3 / 10
A worker wearing a face mask sprays disinfectant along a path in Wuhan. While they were relatively safe sheltering at home, treating their foyer as a type of airlock, Arek felt compelled to go out and document the outbreak of the new type of coronavirus. Among his subjects: the construction of a new hospital built in a handful of days, biosecurity check points, closed bus stations, empty streets and families gathered at playgrounds when the sun broke through winter clouds. (Arek Rataj / AP)

A worker wearing a face mask sprays disinfectant along a path in Wuhan. While they were relatively safe sheltering at home, treating their foyer as a type of airlock, Arek felt compelled to go out and document the outbreak of the new type of coronavirus. Among his subjects: the construction of a new hospital built in a handful of days, biosecurity check points, closed bus stations, empty streets and families gathered at playgrounds when the sun broke through winter clouds. (Arek Rataj / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2020 03:19 PM IST
4 / 10
A clerk wearing a face mask and a plastic bag stands in a pharmacy in Wuhan. Cautiously, the couple moved around in the city, with Jenina forcing Arek to wear a mask. Then on Jan. 23, the authorities put the city under lockdown in hopes of preventing the virus from spreading. Fresh fruits and vegetables became scarce as the couple tried to balance personal safety with an urge to document. (Arek Rataj / AP)

A clerk wearing a face mask and a plastic bag stands in a pharmacy in Wuhan. Cautiously, the couple moved around in the city, with Jenina forcing Arek to wear a mask. Then on Jan. 23, the authorities put the city under lockdown in hopes of preventing the virus from spreading. Fresh fruits and vegetables became scarce as the couple tried to balance personal safety with an urge to document. (Arek Rataj / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2020 03:19 PM IST
5 / 10
A vehicle flying a Chinese flag drives past a woman wearing a face mask as she rides a bicycle along a street in Wuhan. “We met in the middle. We need to be cautious but we will not panic,” Jenina said. They recounted their survival and escape from Wuhan to The Associated Press via Skype from their new room in a military hospital in Poland where they are under a 14-day quarantine. (Arek Rataj / AP)

A vehicle flying a Chinese flag drives past a woman wearing a face mask as she rides a bicycle along a street in Wuhan. “We met in the middle. We need to be cautious but we will not panic,” Jenina said. They recounted their survival and escape from Wuhan to The Associated Press via Skype from their new room in a military hospital in Poland where they are under a 14-day quarantine. (Arek Rataj / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2020 03:19 PM IST
6 / 10
A girl wearing a face mask stands in the entrance to a shop in Wuhan. Arek is planning some kind of project with his photographs and the objects from their trip — such as their medical bracelets for travelling and ear plugs used on the military flight. His hope is that it will prompt governments to develop stronger evacuation protocols for emergency events such as that still gripping Wuhan. (Arek Rataj / AP)

A girl wearing a face mask stands in the entrance to a shop in Wuhan. Arek is planning some kind of project with his photographs and the objects from their trip — such as their medical bracelets for travelling and ear plugs used on the military flight. His hope is that it will prompt governments to develop stronger evacuation protocols for emergency events such as that still gripping Wuhan. (Arek Rataj / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2020 03:19 PM IST
7 / 10
Evacuees board an evacuation flight for EU nationals at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport. Arek got a call to go to the French Consulate for evacuation along with other European Union citizens, but with no guarantee of a ticket for Jenina, a native of the Philippines. Despite the uncertainty, they decided to try, but vowed not to separate. They packed one bag, “half his, half mine,” Jenina said, and fled their new home in Wuhan. When they arrived at the consulate, they were relieved to find a Polish diplomat with a visa for Jenina. (Arek Rataj / AP)

Evacuees board an evacuation flight for EU nationals at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport. Arek got a call to go to the French Consulate for evacuation along with other European Union citizens, but with no guarantee of a ticket for Jenina, a native of the Philippines. Despite the uncertainty, they decided to try, but vowed not to separate. They packed one bag, “half his, half mine,” Jenina said, and fled their new home in Wuhan. When they arrived at the consulate, they were relieved to find a Polish diplomat with a visa for Jenina. (Arek Rataj / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2020 03:19 PM IST
8 / 10
People wear face masks as they fill out immigration paperwork at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport. Staff at the terminal wore yellow hazmat suits, rubber gloves and goggles. A large group of Indian citizens were there, also being evacuated. One Chinese staffer told Arek that he was worried evacuating people would spread the disease outside of China. (Arek Rataj / AP)

People wear face masks as they fill out immigration paperwork at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport. Staff at the terminal wore yellow hazmat suits, rubber gloves and goggles. A large group of Indian citizens were there, also being evacuated. One Chinese staffer told Arek that he was worried evacuating people would spread the disease outside of China. (Arek Rataj / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2020 03:19 PM IST
9 / 10
A military officer wearing a protective suit gives instructions to evacuees from Wuhan. “It was like a dream ... life-changing,” Jenina said. So far, they remain healthy and Poland is free of the virus. (Arek Rataj / AP)

A military officer wearing a protective suit gives instructions to evacuees from Wuhan. “It was like a dream ... life-changing,” Jenina said. So far, they remain healthy and Poland is free of the virus. (Arek Rataj / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2020 03:19 PM IST
10 / 10
People wearing face masks walk down a deserted street in Wuhan. The two are split on returning to China, a land and culture Arek greatly admires. “We have some long discussions ahead,” Jenina said, adding that she hopes to at least return to pick up personal items left at their campus apartment. Arek feels the connection more strongly. Wuhan is within me,” he says. “Wuhan will keep coming back to me.” (Arek Rataj / AP)

People wearing face masks walk down a deserted street in Wuhan. The two are split on returning to China, a land and culture Arek greatly admires. “We have some long discussions ahead,” Jenina said, adding that she hopes to at least return to pick up personal items left at their campus apartment. Arek feels the connection more strongly. Wuhan is within me,” he says. “Wuhan will keep coming back to me.” (Arek Rataj / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2020 03:19 PM IST
SHARE
Story Saved