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July 7, 2020

Student Voice: What “back to normal” means for this Chinese student

People wearing face masks walk, in Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicenter of China’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, March 29, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

 

By Zhiming Gu, seventh grade, Beijing City International School, Beijing, China

Life is slowly returning back to normal in China. Students are returning to schools across the country. But how are schools ensuring that returning students are healthy?

Most importantly, we must complete rigorous testing and tracking. Students are required to stay home and record a temperature of 37.2 degrees Celsius (99.0 Fahrenheit) for 14 days in a row. Then, students need to fill out a form about whether or not we’ve been to Wuhan or if we have been out of the country.

Zhiming Gu

Once students return to school, we have our temperatures measured twice a day, in the morning and afternoon. We must stay 1.5 meters away from each other and otherwise minimize contact. Also, we eat lunch by ourselves. 

Another thing students do before entering the school is scan a QR code linked to their phones.  

When the coronavirus epidemic first started there wasn’t a foolproof way to detect who had been in the city the whole time and who had gone out of the country or to other cities and then come back. The Chinese government developed a QR code that, when scanned, could tell epidemic prevention personnel where citizens have been. Those who have been out of the city and returned are not allowed into buildings such as schools. This invention has proven to be very handy for keeping the number of infections down, saving many people in China.

Everyone in Beijing began to think the virus was long gone. But no. We had become over-confident.

Because of these strategies and others, Beijing went 56 days without any new infections. Everyone in Beijing began to think the virus was long gone. But no. We had become over-confident. A new outbreak in the city took place recently.

A man went to buy some salmon for his grandson. After he bought it, he tested positive for COVID-19. The government conducted an investigation at the market where he bought the fish and found out that it wasn’t sanitary at all. But they don’t know if he got it from the salmon itself or from the conditions at the market. Soon after this, more than 200 people got infected. The government found out that all of these people went to this market some time in the last fourteen days. Now the market has been shut down and the government is encouraging people to stay home again. 

The good news for me personally is that the outbreak started after my summer break started, so I don’t have to go to school every day anyway. Like others, I’d come to think that after 56 days that the coronavirus had been wiped out for good in Beijing, but that just shows how little we know about viruses and pandemics. 

I know that right now tensions are high between some countries, but we need to put our differences aside first to combat this virus.

We live in a world where we can land rockets precisely on ships in the ocean, send robots up to Mars and build an international space station — and then send it up to space. But technology alone can’t defeat a virus. Right now, China and the U.S. are two of the biggest economies in the world and they are both still struggling with COVID-19. China is scrambling to control the outbreak in its capital and the U.S. already has 2 million people infected. 

With news playing such a key part of our daily lives, I decided my summer vacation plan would be to read some books about deadly viruses and how to control them. I am doing this in order to be better prepared for something like this in the future. I think that the only way we can defeat the virus is not through technology alone, but by being united against it. I know that right now tensions are high between some countries, but we need to put our differences aside first to combat this virus. It’s the only chance all of us have for truly getting back to normal.


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