A pitched ‘people’s war’ on coronavirus on the streets of China
China’s Communist leaders are never at a loss for hyperbole.
President Xi Jinping, according to state media, for example, told a top meeting of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Monday that China has launched a “people’s war” on the Coronavirus epidemic.
We, in India, might associate “people’s war” with the far-left movement in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar but here, in China, “people’s” is pretty much mainstreamed: The central bank is people’s, the currency is people’s and even the armed forces’ is people’s to name a few of the people’s family assets.
On the streets of China, people have also taken up the fight against the pathogen now.
The only preemptive weapon, of course, is precaution.
Masks are now ubiquitous among the few walking the deserted streets of Beijing; it’s the same in other cities, I hear from friends.
All shopkeepers I have met in the past 10 days are wearing them too.
Apartment administrations – Beijing has thousands of apartments -- have geared up in different ways to contain the infection from spreading.
Security guards conduct temperature checks on visitors at gates, brandishing thermometres as laser-guided weapons, elevators are armed with tissue boxes, their controls covered in, hopefully, virus-proof plastic and so on.
Instruction manuals about the virus have been pasted in and outside elevators, spelling out the symptoms and requesting residents to report if ill.
A security guard came to my apartment last week to enquire whether any family member had been to the outbreak epicentre of Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, this month. He was wearing a mask.
Beijing public transport corporation has taken measures such as cleaning and disinfecting buses, ventilating the air inside, measuring the temperatures of staff members and ensuring that staff members work with face masks to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Public transport is running normally in Beijing.
What’s abnormal is the number of people on them.
Normally, at the end of the Chinese New Year holidays, buses and subway trains gradually fill up. Not this year. They are running near-empty.
People – could also be part of a well thought out war-time strategy – sit far from each other on them these days.
At subway stations, passengers get their temperature checked by security personnel in protective clothing. (I took a photo of one on my mobile phone recently but had to delete it at his request.)
His gait was uncomfortable. But his grit must have been solid. It’s a people’s war, after all.